America owes good health care to its past and present military personnel.
That includes our warriors who have suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As dynamic Post and Courier colleague Tony Bartelme wrote Sunday in “Blast Wave,” a chilling “Special Report” on “The Invisible Wounds of War”: “After a blast, your body may look perfectly fine on the outside, but your insides might have been blown to pieces. The same goes for your brain, pulsating with electricity, blood and thoughts.”
As those stories Sunday and Monday also pointed out, that lingering ordeal extends to some of our neighbors here in the Charleston area.
Back to our escalating national debts:
America owes, due to federal legislation passed nearly a half century ago, good health care to old folks and poor folks.
It also looks as if we will eventually owe, due to federal legislation passed three years ago, good health care to just about everybody else — including an enlarged corps of the “poor.”
Who’s going to pay for that?
And why is Nikki Haley, along with some (but not all) other Republican governors, turning down federal funding for Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?
Haley said in a news conference last week at the national Medicaid Enterprise Systems Conference in North Charleston: “All the governors had tough decisions. We had to make a decision that we could sleep at night with. I’m very comfortable sleeping at night knowing we’re doing this at our pace and not at D.C.’s.”
Let them eat aspirin
Haley’s “pace” won’t match Obamacare’s race to raise the Medicaid income-eligibility level to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The law promises federal money for all of that extra expense until 2017, when participating states will take on a small share of the expansion cost until it tops out at 10 percent in 2020.
Lots of South Carolinians who can’t be dismissed as left-wing ideologues (including the S.C. Hospital Association and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce) consider that “free” federal money too sweet a deal to turn down.
Then again, plenty of Obamacare promises have already been broken.
And as Haley put it in her speech at last week’s conference: “When we look at the growth of Medicaid and of health care costs in general, over the last 40 years, we’re seeing rises that we know we can’t sustain. It’s crystal clear it’s unsustainable, and if we fail to fundamentally change the system, we will continue to have problems.”
This is also crystal clear:
If we conservatives fail to change our image of not caring about the poor, we will continue to have political problems. Our best, accurate, but so-far-unsuccessful pitch: The folly of cradle-to-grave government dependency is particularly hard on those who are hard up.
And no, Haley can’t overturn Obamacare nationally by turning down that Medicaid money for our state. Congressional Republicans can’t “de-fund” the law this year, either — and would be foolish to try.
But S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson was correct Wednesday when he told the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that “important deadlines are being routinely missed, and more importantly, security concerns are being dismissed” in the implementation of Obamacare.
More of that bewildering behemoth will kick in on Oct. 1 — not counting the many parts the administration has postponed past next year’s mid-term elections.
Meanwhile, my “Me Generation” keeps relentlessly aging into the “gimme generation.”
Losing numbers game
Washington has long taken Social Security and Medicare “contributions” from workers (and matching amounts from their employers) — and paid the programs’ benefits. Thus, the public expects that money to keep flowing both ways.
Yet that irresistible assumption is on a collision course with this immovable math problem: The ratio of payers to beneficiaries has dropped sharply — and will keep declining for decades to come.
And last month, the U.S. labor participation rate (percentage of people over 16 with a job or actively searching for one) fell to 63.2 percent — the lowest level since August 1978.
But our collective — and terminal? — case of Nanny State Syndrome still induces the delusion that government can keep taking care of us.
So give Haley conservative credit for her principled stand against Medicaid expansion.
At least she’s reminding us that nothing we get from Washington — or Columbia — is truly “free.”
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.