Sen. Barack Obama’s healthcare plan cuts a wide path through the current road most Americans take. Besides hoping to expand Medicaid, in a series of recent speeches to Hispanic groups, he moved towards Sen. Hillary Clinton’s plan, hoping to provide a refundable credit of up to 50 percent on premiums paid by small businesses on behalf of their employees. ABC News says, “The Obama campaign estimates that this tax credit would cost $6 billion.” Obama chose to speak about this most recently to the National Council of La Raza, said ABC, telling the audience, “…small businesses are the engines of economic prosperity—especially in Latino communities.” But the senator hasn’t come up with a way to define a small business to determine eligibility for the tax credit. ABC said an Obama spokesman explained those details will be “…worked out with Congress.”
As a frequently irate taxpayer and a small businesswoman, I have serious concerns about the government encroaching further on healthcare, especially on this level. The government is already in trouble with Medicaid—you could line the road from Northeast Florida (where I live) to Washington with dollar bills, come back again and then do both all over again multiple times if you consider the amount of Medicaid dollars that go down the drain. A newspaper in the mid-size city of Anderson, SC, *The Independent Mail *has this to say, “The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, a committee jointly chaired by a Republican and a Democrat, revealed that ‘using the ID numbers of deceased doctors, sometimes more than 15 years after they have died, fraud artists have treated Medicare like an ATM,’ particularly in the areas of medical equipment and supplies such as wheelchairs and prosthetics. Nearly a half-million improper claims were paid since 2000, with losses estimated at nearly $100 million.”
In Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum disclosed troubling figures in a report—as much as $2 billion a year may be lost in Florida’s $16 billion Medicaid program to fraud and abuse. Last year, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigated 1,013 complaints and returned approximately $70 million in defrauded funds to the state.
In South Carolina, according to the website of Attorney General Henry McMaster, “South Carolina spends about $2.7 billion each year on Medicaid, combining state and federal funds. So using the federal equation, the Palmetto State loses about $270 million to fraud each year.”
I tried to access similar figures for Obama’s home state of Illinois, but after half an hour of searching, I gave up, assuming those figures would parallel losses in other states.
The US government, in my opinion, cannot run healthcare as efficiently as the private sector. Do we need reform? I believe we do, on matters such as billing, insurance practices and mandates. I also believe the marketplace can, with some urging by governments at all levels, come up with a solution. For instance, some states and institutions have passed mandates for procedures whether they make sense or not.
In my last book, I wrote about my family’s experience with mandates. Our then 13-year-old daughter was admitted to the emergency room with suspected appendicitis. The first thing the hospital did? They gave her a pregnancy test. “We have to do that with every female past puberty,” (I'm paraphrasing the gist) the nurse told me when, with no small amount of incredulity, I asked about it. I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when my daughter greeted him with (her exact words which I will never forget), “Hey, Dad, guess what? I’m not pregnant!” Of course our insurance covered the completely unnecessary test.
The federal government cannot efficiently run Medicaid and they want to take over my healthcare. That’s rather like a tree surgeon deciding he’ll diversify by doing brain surgery, don’t you think?
Sources: ABC News Political Radar Blog, SC Attorney General website, Florida Attorney General website, Obama campaign website