Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Medicare and Medicaid!

At it again. The Salisbury Post was nice enough to print my latest column in the paper today, and reprinted here:

Happy birthday Medicaid and Medicare! July 30, 2010 is the forty-fifth anniversary of the birth of Medicaid and Medicare. They were born on July 30, 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965. At the bill signing, President Johnson enrolled former President Harry Truman as the first Medicare enrollee and Bess Truman as enrollee number two! Forty-five years later, the two programs have combined budgets of over $736 billion!

Two of the biggest questions asked about Medicaid and Medicare are: “What are Medicaid and Medicare?” and “What’s the difference?”

Medicaid is a safety net for indigent people. It covers indigent elders, pregnant women, children, the disabled, etc. In North Carolina, Medicaid covered 1.8 million people in 2009 at a total cost of over $11 billion. The number of Medicaid recipients has risen as the economic situation has forced many more people into poverty. Medicaid pays for physicians, hospital care, nursing homes, assisted living, medications, hospice, dental care, mental health services, and at home services for poor children and adults.

Medicare on the other hand is an insurance program. All employees and their employers pay in to the Medicare program. If you are 65 years of age and qualify for Medicare services, it will pay for hospitalization, short term nursing home rehabilitation, drugs under the Part D program, etc. In the case of a nursing home, Medicare will pay for the first 20 days if you meet their qualifications, and can pay for up to 80 more days after the recipient pays a substantial co-pay. It is a complicated system, but you can email me at for additional resources.

People like to throw rocks at the government and at Medicaid/Medicare. Medicaid and Medicare are huge programs, and growing. In a program that big covering that many people, it’s easy to find outrageous stories of fraud or abuse. Unfortunately, there will always be dishonest people.

Let me share two examples. The July 17, 2010 Salisbury Post ran an Associated Press article on three dozen people being arrested for defrauding Medicare out of $251 million! Outrageous! Another example: Medicare/Medicaid nursing homes are monitored and reimbursed through an antiquated, wasteful bureaucratic system. Outrageous waste!

While those criminals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent and the system should be revolutionized, we should not throw out the baby with the bath water. The far left seems to want to pay for everything, which we cannot afford. The far right seems to want to pay for nothing. Common sense must prevail, because in most instances for most people Medicare and Medicaid are America at its best.

American society was built on Christian principles including the biblical charge of caring for the widow and orphan. Our society has done that through the church, like the creation of Lutheran Services for the Aging where I work, and through government programs like Medicaid that care for those who can’t care for themselves.

We have to be able to afford services, so we as a society can’t pay for everything. But where do we draw the line? Do we not pay for an operation for an elder or a baby because they can’t afford to pay? Do we tell an 80 year-old who could live for 15 more years they can’t have that medical procedure, or that medicine? Do we deny nursing home care to our grandmother who is too sick to stay home and needs 24-hour care? While there is abuse and waste that needs to be wiped out, look at all the good Medicare and Medicaid provide.

Happy Birthday Medicaid and Medicare, and many more! Thank you for caring for the most vulnerable, frail members of our community!

Friday, July 16, 2010

LutheranHomeHickoryWest public hearing big success! Hearing officer then toured West. Looked great! Officer understands need.
Big day. In state public hearing in Hickory for new LutheranHomeHickoryWest.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TrinityOaks had surprise State inspection all day. Not one deficiency! Exceptional! Congrats to every TO team mate!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The new Lutheran Home in Wilmington is really coming along now. The roof is going on. We'll see shingles any day. Sprinkler piping, etc. are already being installed. McKinley Construction, Architect David Polston, and LSA's Administrator John Frye are doing a great job, and building a building we can all be proud of.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

At 4or4:30 AM cooks and other food service staff rolled out to get to work to cook a great breakfast for our 1200 customers! Dedication!