People in three West Virginia counties will be asked to sign a pledge in order to receive "enhanced" Medicaid benefits, linking so-called "personal responsibility" to receipt of health care. Idaho and Kentucky are planning similar programs.
Those signing and abiding by the agreement (or their children, who account for a majority of Medicaid patients here) will receive "enhanced benefits" including mental health counseling, long-term diabetes management and cardiac rehabilitation, and prescription drugs and home health visits as needed, as well as antismoking and antiobesity classes. Those who do not sign will get federally required basic services but be limited to four prescriptions a month, for example, and will not receive the other enhanced benefits.Did I hear that right? A Marriott rewards plan? How useful will that be be to a West Virginian poor enough to qualify for Medicaid? (And as a side question, is there anything, anything in the US today not linked to a corporate marketing plan?)
In future years, those who comply fully will get further benefits ("like a Marriott rewards plan," Ms. Atkins said), their nature to be determined but perhaps including orthodontics or other dental services.
Before you say it's a good idea to link benefits with responsibilities, I'd ask you to indulge in a little daydream. Imagine yourself a Medicaid recipient in West Virginia. Chances are you are a child. Your parent is either unemployed or earns minimum wage: $5.15/hour. A working automobile and a tank of gas are precious goods, not quickly used or easily replaced. Your parents, like you, have had little or no health education. And now your receiving improved health care will be linked to your parents attending classes and making lifestyle changes that are difficult even under optimal conditions. It's very difficult to attend classes if it uses up the gas you need to get to work.
After that daydream, reflect on your own comfortable life, where you receive health care whether or not others approve of your habits and life choices, and where you are free to meet whatever standards you set for yourself.
And finally, imagine the recipients of the largest welfare program on the planet - the US corporate welfare network - where members receive vast subsidies, pay no taxes, and are not held to even minimum standards of social responsibility.
Personal responsibility is an admirable concept. By why is it only the poor who are asked to have any?
If you want people to change their lives, give them the tools they need to do it: jobs that can actually support their families, and public education that actually educates.
All this comes down to is yet another way to punish people for being poor.
* * * *
A few states away in Tennessee, people too lazy to "press 1 for English" are trying to make Nashville an English-only town. Because, dontcha know, "No nation can withstand the antagonism, tension and conflict brought about by multilingualism and multiculturalism." Then why did my high blood pressure disappear when I moved to Canada?**
Of course, Nashville Councilman Eric Crafton, the author of the bill, says that his English-Only plan will "allow [people] the dignity of taking responsibility for their own lives and actions." Yes, it's all about responsibility.
To its credit, the city's Chamber of Commerce opposes the idea.
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, no liberal bastion, opposes the English-Only ordinance. In the view of the Chamber, Crafton's ordinance would "constitute an official policy by Nashville against inclusiveness. Such a policy would have a direct and negative effect on Nashville's ability to attract and retain companies that have an international or multi-ethnic workforce or customer base."However, the bill may pass over their objections - and soon.
Thanks to Egalia for the news and the link. I love being the all-purpose link to Canada!
What reason number is this again?
** It's true. Although hypertension and cardiovascular disease run in my family, my high blood pressure has disappeared since I emigrated. During a bad allergy attack in the spring, I suspected my blood pressure medication was contributing to a persistent cough, which is common. I stopped taking the meds - and discovered I no longer needed them. It's been seven months now, and my blood pressure continues to be normal. Not a scientific study, but...