Perception.

October 22, 2013
Three blind mice

Three blind mice (Photo credit: Paul Lowry)

Sometime ago I had a particularly heated conversation, if one could even call it that, with a particularly liberal individual.  This person doesn’t even qualify as an acquaintance, because I’ve only ever talked to them a couple times, and the exchange really doesn’t qualify as a conversation, because one of us calmly conveyed a perception of a situation, and the other conveyed only hostility.

Anyway, one assertion of note from this exchange touched on the concept of personal responsibility, and at the same time exposed a fiscal situation worth noting.

It’s a fact, the tax payers pick up the tab when folks go to the hospital and don’t pay for it.  I know the numbers are out there, I honestly just don’t have time to do the research, and convey exactly how much that situation costs the tax payers annually, but I would wager it’s a whole lot less than this so called affordable care act.

This assertion was made in the form of a statement, and then the conversation was abruptly ended before I could respond.  The statement was, “when you get sick, I don’t want to pay for it!”

I found this statement personally insulting, but also to be an exemplary example of the willful ignorance, of some of our more passionate opponents.

If I had the chance, I might have said something along the lines of, “just because you’d throw anybody and everybody under a bus to save yourself doesn’t mean I would, or that everybody would.”

The fact is, at the time I had that conversation, I had already gotten sick, and didn’t have insurance.  I actually got sick in April of 2010.  5 months, some 14 doctor visits, and half a dozen different courses of antibiotics later, my doctor sent me in for a biopsy surgery.  The surgery alone cost a little more than 6 grand.  Turned out to be staph infection, and once they had sample of the bug, they set me up with an antibiotic that actually worked.

Now this is the important part.  It took about 2 years to pay off, but right from the beginning, I made arrangements with the hospital.  I told them what I could afford, and they got it.  I didn’t dump my medical bills on the tax payers and walk away.  It hadn’t even occurred to me, to not try to pay my debt.  I just wasn’t raised that way.

I don’t believe anywhere near the majority of my fellow Americans are deadbeats.  This is a manufactured perception.

The thing is, responsible, decent men and women, don’t make a big scene when they come across an unexpected expense.  They just get down to business and find a way to honor their obligations.

Of course this false perception of an overwhelming lack of integrity isn’t the only flaw in this statement.

Not too long ago I read through a report titled “An Estimate of the Economic Ramifications Attributable to the Potential Medicaid Expansion on the Montana Economy” which was submitted to “The Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance State of Montana” by “The Bureau of Business and Economic Research The University of Montana.”

According to this report, which I understand was submitted in January 2013, 20% of Montanans do not have health insurance.  If the legislature had passed the Medicaid expansion, this number would only go down to 16%.

If I understand the ACA correctly, the federal government is supposed to pay a high percentage of the cost of the Medicaid expansion at first, and then incrementally step down their contribution, as the state’s contribution proportionately goes up.

Regardless of what percentages are paid by the federal government, and by the state, the taxpayers pay for Medicaid.

Now, unlike those yahoos at the federal level who cooked the books to sell the ACA in the first place, I still have a fair level of confidence in the professionals our state lawmakers utilize, to put together the necessary fiscal projections they use to make sure any new laws, or expansions, are properly funded.

Right now, our redistributionist adversaries, are pretty hot under the collar because the law makers on our side of the aisle, very responsibly and considerately acknowledged one minor detail, our adversaries would prefer nobody knew about.

As it is unlikely that our opponents, in particular the one holding the veto pen, would support spending cuts to other programs and services, at least not by a sufficient dollar amount to avoid the need for any state tax increase, those 16% of Montanans that would still find themselves paying the penalty for the ACA, would also have to look forward to a state tax increase.

After this shutdown fiasco, the media would have us believe that Republicans are being crucified across the country, ultra conservative and moderates alike.  I have no doubt that countless voters on both sides don’t think the shutdown was the right course of action, and considering that our side gained virtually nothing, it’s easy to judge in hind sight.

As for our state Republican lawmakers, all I have to say is thank you.  The legislature of the state of Montana can’t relieve the burden of the ACA, but they did not add to it.

On the other hand, I am, and have been profoundly annoyed with our federal lawmakers as a whole governing body.

I am not surprised in the least that our dictator and chief refused to negotiate during the shutdown, but the senate too.

The liberal voices are on a roll, declaring their victory in the court of public opinion like the Nazi’s just surrendered again.  They are passing themselves off as warriors of a cause, but they made a mistake.

I have reason to believe they are aware of it, and quickly, but quietly working franticly to compensate.

Recent reports I’ve received which I’m sure is well known, indicate the white house hinted at delaying the individual mandate.  Why would they do that?  They won the battle didn’t they?

Actually they didn’t.  Although droves of Americans are irritated with the Republicans for the shutdown, especially since we didn’t get any meaningful compromise out of it, there is an unforeseen consequence.  Countless Americans across the country that were still sitting patiently, holding onto the old perception, there’s that word again, that America always works it’s stuff out, just realized that might not be the case this time.

The Democrats could have decisively condemned the Republicans if they did negotiate.  They could have presented themselves as the party of reluctant reason.  They could have said to the American people, “Ours is a cause of genuine merit, but clearly we have a lot of work to do, together, but we will see this thing through, in a considerate and civilized manner.”

They didn’t do that.  They told the American people, “we have the power now, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

As always, I try to end my articles with a course of action.  Think hard on how you perceive this situation, and tell somebody about it.

 

Glenn W. Uncles Jr.

Helena, Montana

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