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« The [Insurance] Empire Strikes Back | Main | Medicaid Hurts The Poor, The Physicians and The Taxpayers »

Physicians Say Government "Charity" is a Cash Cow for Special Interests

By Alieta Eck, MD

Physicians are waking up to the fact that they have been used by self-serving politicians and insurers. Their licenses have been co-opted by those who have profited greatly. While physicians were busy studying hard, excelling on their exams and putting in endless hours of often thankless care in their residency training, the MBAs were dreaming up ways to siphon off the fruits of their labor.

In 1965, physicians were blitzed when the huge government programs were started in the name of charity.  Instead of being an efficient way to care for the poor and lift them out of poverty,  "charity care" has become synonymous with big government programs that  are heavy on bureaucracy, crushing the taxpayer and downright cruel to the poor.  Medicaid cardholders have difficulty finding a physician who can afford to provide care with the low payments, so the government responds by setting up venues that cost the taxpayer dearly.

Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) have been established-- each one handed a generous start-up grant of $650,000.  They are given "enhanced Medicaid dollars," and free medical malpractice coverage, all ways to increase their revenues and decrease their costs. But a look at their Form 990s tell a story of profligate spending, of highly paid executives and well endowed bank accounts used for travel, "recruitment,"  and consultants.  Sure, the poor are seen on a "sliding scale basis," but the return visits are frequent and the billing to the government relentless.  One such clinic takes in $14 million in taxpayer funds and spends $160-280 per patient visit-- for charity care.

Patients are treated as commodities and campaign props for politicians "who buy the poor for silver." (Amos 8:6) and who do very well from the donations of those who establish these clinics.  The taxpayer is hit from all sides. The practices of nearby physicians find they must work on an uneven playing field competing with institutions that exist because of their own tax dollars.

The perfect storm of an ailing economy, decreased government revenues, angry taxpayers and the clear exploitation of the poor by the corruption inherent in the Medicaid system is making the physicians wake up. They abandoned the Medicaid program a long time ago and instead have cared for the poor for free, giving real charity at their own expense.

So the doctors are asking, "Why should the taxpayers pay into the Medicaid system to the tune of $10 billion per year in NJ?"   "Where is the money going, if physicians are not being paid?"  While physicians were getting a total of $90 million in the NJ Medicaid system, the administrators of the Medicaid HMO's and FQHCs were reaping $500 million.

Now the physicians are demanding that the system be dismantled piece by piece, and are asking for volunteers and philanthropists to establish non-government free clinics through voluntary charitable donations. One such clinic was started in Red Bank, NJ, with a lovely building erected through the generosity of Jon Bon Jovi.  Physicians are willing to donate their time-- as much as four hours a week, to care for the disadvantaged in their communities.  No claim forms, no coding, no bills-- just care.

If the Volunteer Physicians Protection Act (VPPA) becomes law, doctors will receive state sponsored medical malpractice coverage for all of their other work, not just the charity.  This would be a big "thank-you" that will only cost the taxpayer if an actual lawsuit is brought and prevails.  Lawsuits will be rare, as is the case with the Federal Tort Claims Act that already covers work done in free clinics.  And since medical school physicians and residents are already covered by the state, this program would just need to be expanded.

A free clinic in central New Jersey operates by the kindness of volunteers and the generosity of those who choose to donate to a worthy cause.  Patients find that the kindness is palpable and they feel uplifted when they leave. The total cost per patient visit is $13. No taxpayer funds are used.

"Most of our twentieth-century schemes, based on having someone else take action, are proven failures.  It's time to learn from the warm hearts and hard heads of earlier times."

         Marvin Olasky, The Tragedy of American Compassion, c1992, p.233.

Every American needs to decide what role he might play in bringing health care to the poor. Volunteering a few hours per month in a non-government free clinic alongside doctors of every specialty would reap a world of benefit to the caregiver as well as the receiver.

Dr. Alieta Eck, MD graduated from the Rutgers College of Pharmacy in NJ and the St. Louis School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. She studied Internal Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ and has been in private practice with her husband, Dr. John Eck, MD in Piscataway, NJ since 1988. She has been involved in health care reform since residency and is convinced that the government is a poor provider of medical care. She testified before the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress in 2004 about better ways to deliver health care in the United States. In 2003, she and her husband founded the Zarephath Health Center, a free clinic for the poor and uninsured that currently cares for 300-400 patients per month utilizing the donated services of volunteer physicians and nurses.  Dr. Eck is a long time member of the Christian Medical Dental Association and in 2009 joined the board of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. In addition, she serves on the board of Christian Care Medi-Share, a faith based medical cost sharing Ministry. She is a member of Zarephath Christian Church and she and her husband have five children, one in medical school in NJ.

Reader Comments (8)

The beauty of the Non-Government Free Clinic structure of having State Self Insurance for Malpractice, is the exchange of volunteer health care professional's hours for coverage has no cash changing hands, anywhere.

Patients are treated for free with no government reimbursement for care, slashing direct care costs and eliminating the funding stream that feeds the current system of fraud and abuse. No cash changing hands means no opportunity for fraud to occur.

Additionally, the Volunteer Physician's Protection Act addresses root causes for the loss of medical practitioners, the constant harassment of ambulance chasers looking to pray upon the private practices of physicians.

The Health Care equation is simple. No Doctors = No Health Care. Protection of the most critical of all health care resources, the care providers, is essential to reverse the accelerating spiral of decline in availability for practitioners.

The tsunami of aging baby boomers is on the horizon. Without a significant increase in the number of medical facilities available, the health care system in New Jersey will be totally incapable of managing the burden of care for all residents, poor and paying alike.

April 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNora Craig

Agree with all of this,it's about time doctors stepped up to the plate, doing what we all set out to do in the first place when we became doctors, without fascist government interference and no-pay medicaid reimbursement. A way to improve on this even further would for the above caregivers to get a direct tax writeoff for the money that would have been charged for the above care. That might double the hours the doctors/nurses would donate.

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermatt, MD

I am really tired of folks turning the MBA accomplishment into a term to describe what they want to call unsavory individuals performing actions they think are wrong. I worked for three years at night to gain this graduate level of serious education, and I do not appreciate or think it should be turned into a term that is interchangable for crook or thief within a comment by someone without any understanding at all of what an MBA does. Would the good author like for her MD accomplishment/designation being used in that manner? I am sure MDs believe the MD after their name brings confidence from their patients, could it not be that those of us with an MBA might like to think the same is true of our clients/employers. We both worked hard to achieve that level of knowledge, get it?

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjohn elder

Alieta and John, ask pastors for 30 seconds during announcements at services (and space in the bulletins) to ask for volunteers to serve as receptionists with the Spirit.

People enjoy helping physicians convey the Spirit.

I saw a pie chart where 1/3 of each health care dollar went to Big Insurance and another 1/3 went to Big Pharm. 28% went to hospitals and only 3% (!!!!!) went to doctors.

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Centofante M.D.

I suggest that all doctors read the book "The Medical Mafia" by Canadian physician Guylaine Lanctot, MD, to learn how the medical profession was taken over by the Rockefellers in the early 1900's. When I was in medical school in the early 1980's, we had 10 hours of nutrition, and 2 years of pharmacology. Why aren't more doctors outraged at how only prescription drugs (which kill over 200,000 people per year according to the article "Deadly Medicine" published in Vanity Fair), are covered by insurance? Why aren't more doctors seeking to learn the CAUSE of disease, rather than just writing prescriptions for toxic drugs which may manage symptoms, but cure NOTHING, and always cause side effects?

Why isn't "Take Back Medicine" exposing how doctors who step out of the big pharma box are being robbed of their licenses? (In fact, the medical mafia went after Dr Lanctot for even writing her book). The medical literature is loaded with articles about how vaccines corrupt the immune system, leading to autoimmune disease and cancer; yet, doctors blindly continue this insane practice. Please read the article "The Science of Vaccine Damage" posted on, to learn how 19 scientific studies done by non-pharma funded veterinarians have PROVEN what I realized 15 years ago; that pretty much all of "internal medicine" is actually vaccine induced diseases - the biggest epidemic the world has ever known.

The "Hippocratic Oath" has become the "Hippocritic Oath" Doctors are killing people. healing NOTHING. WAKE UP!

Rebecca Carley, MD
Court Qualified Expert in Vaccine Induced Diseases (De-licensed by the medical mafia in NYS due to an alleged "delusion of conspiracy")

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca Carley, MD

Somewhat agreed, although there are a few non-sequiturs:

"Instead of being an efficient way to care for the poor and lift them out of poverty, "charity care" has become synonymous with big government programs that are heavy on bureaucracy, crushing the taxpayer and downright cruel to the poor."

Government "Charity care" as implemented in socialised countries (basically the whole of the First World other than us) works as intended. In the USA, our tax structure is largely geared towards tax cuts for the rich and therefore increased (relative) burden on the poor. So when a government program is designed to help the poor, it gets funded by the poor, who are then not free to choose how to allocate their own money (although arguably they would not be poor if they were any good at this...). There are two "solutions":
1) Cut all socialised aid programs.
2) Transfer more tax burden to the rich.
The first option tells the poor to do the best they can under an unfair system. The second tells the rich to do the same. All the articles here seem to prefer the first option, but it's not the only option.

I think that as long as corporations run the country, medicine costs will continue to be absurd, and most of the money will go to the health insurers, the pharm corps, and to overhead. Once again, is the best solution to distance the medical industry from the government and leave the government to ruin everything else, or to work on campaign finance reform and get corruption out of all levels of our government?

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterben

Plenty of good MBA's, I'm sure. Nevertheless, Dr Eck is correct. Physicians are just too nice. They have been parasitized by insurance executives, MBA's, lawyers - like sainted John Edwards - politicians--it's like we need leech and tick repellent.

let's let the guys in the deep carpet handle the blood and crap if they want the good parts, they can take the bad, too. I'll run the nation - a lot better than they are.

April 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Revere

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