The negotiations on the fiscal cliff, if I may use that term to describe the posturing in government that is underway, drag on at their same slow pace as before the election. We’ve all heard about it – and some of us have taken the time to understand its implications. Probably just a few of us. Perhaps the reason so few of us concern ourselves with the matter is that, as I review today’s “Trending News” on Yahoo, the subject didn’t make it into the top ten. We have higher priorities.
Of the top five items on that list of what Yahoo viewers found important, four were concerned with “celebrities” and their activities which included one law suit; one romantic breakup; one engagement and one speeding ticket. Rounding out the list just in time for the next $500 Million Powerball drawing was a seven time lottery winner’s advice on how to increase your chances of winning in the random game – a subject which he covers in a book which has sold thousands of copies.
Of course, none of these has anything to do with our subject – but in reviewing the list of today’s news items, there were two entries which I found that did pertain. These were stories about whether doctors should prescribe the “morning after” pill to teen girls without parental consent and a report about the CDC’s engaging in a three year program to educate minority gay and bisexual men about AIDS prevention. Whoever said, “Money is the root of all evil” must have lived before the time of our sexual liberation.
According to the CDC report they estimate that 1,000 “young people” whom they define as being between the ages of 13 and 24 are infected monthly with HIV. The cost of drug therapy to control the virus is approximately $400,000 per person over their lifetime. This report focuses strictly on people in that age group and does not address older people who are similarly infected.
Since most people in that age group don’t have the benefit of a trust fund from Grandma to pay for the drugs they will need, the taxpayers, monthly are incurring an ultimate liability of an additional $400 Million to add to the amounts we are already spending on Medicaid – which will no doubt be the provider of the drugs that they will require.
Now I don’t want to sound like one of those stodgy old conservatives who is merely concerned about his or her own welfare and that of their family. Actually, I think of myself as a warm and caring person who generally makes decisions based on logic, tempered with compassion. But I do become mildly rankled when I read stories like this.
At the heart of the fiscal cliff discussion is the issue of “entitlement” programs which include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. While those three are lumped together under the same heading, I believe that the only one of them which actually qualifies as an “entitlement” is Medicaid – the healthcare program for those who cannot afford treatment because of their limited financial circumstances. The other two, Social Security and Medicaid are funded by the working taxpayer and by their employers who pay into both funds in similar amounts. In the latter two cases if people receive benefits it is because they are entitled to do so because they paid for them.
As we know, Social Security and Medicare are nearly bankrupt. That is because the Federal government has regularly engaged in financial chicanery and pillaged the funds which taxpayers paid into them to use them for other purposes. One of those purposes has been to fund Medicaid – to which no one has every directly contributed a dime.
If you read through Obamacare, it is clear that health services will soon be rationed. A panel of fifteen as yet unnamed bureaucrats (who may or may not have any medical background) will determine what services you and I are “entitled” to receive. In the absence of any realistic, soundly based principled attempt to cut waste and fraud and the overhead costs engendered by a bureaucracy to administer these programs (and now we will be adding to that, digging ourselves yet deeper in debt) it had to come to that.
So with my empathetic view toward life I theorize that I am one of those fifteen people who will have the responsibility for determining who shall receive and who shall be deprived of health benefits and two cases come before me. There are only enough funds to treat one of these patients.
The first is one of these young, newly-infected HIV patients. He is in his present situation because he was uneducated or careless or unconcerned about the consequences of his liaisons. The second is your grandmother who has worked all her life, paid her taxes and raised a family. She got into her condition through the natural process of getting old.
I don’t mean to sound heartless but I’m sorry HIV “victim,” you’re out of here. I made my decision based on the “greater good.”
Grandma makes a terrific apple pie.