By: Alieta Eck, MD,
It begins with an injury—a torn shoulder, a crushing back mishap, an abdominal operation. The miracle medications relieve the pain very well. However pain has an emotional component, and in some patients the need for narcotics far exceeds the time frame of any typical physical condition.
Calm, emotional peace and a feeling of well-being can only be temporarily relieved by taking a pill. Yet the addict becomes consumed with the desire for the feeling that narcotic pain pills bring. They can become an obsession and the patient will magnify his symptoms to secure more. Getting back to work is delayed and the addiction firmly takes root. Ambition diminishes as the addict's mind becomes consumed with conniving for the next prescription-- or buying the next stash from the underground black market.
Doctors want to relieve pain and must carefully discern each case. But drug pushers just want to get rich and callously disregard the well-being of the patient.
Family members are recruited by the addict to corroborate his stories and help secure the drugs, but they often fall victim to the lying and stealing, and spend their own resources that they can ill afford. Addicts become self-absorbed and indifferent to the pain they cause others. Arguments escalate as the addict is moody and unproductive.
The kindest thing to do is help the addict come to grips with his dilemma, show him he is not alone, and have volunteers come along side to demonstrate a way out.
In the pain of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt wanted to relieve the suffering, so he nationalized retirement income with Social Security. Then in 1965 President Johnson initiated the "Great Society" with the Medicaid program designed to relieve the poor of the fear of not being able to gain access to medical care. But socializing any society causes new problems when it rewards inactivity and irresponsible behavior. Why save when the government promises cradle to grave care? Politicians become enablers, taking pride in their reputation of wanting to relieve the pain of the poor while actually exploiting them for votes.
Today one in seven US citizens, 55 million, are on Medicaid. The government funds the program by extracting money from productive family members and other taxpayers. The poor can become addicted to the government program, doing nothing to extract themselves out of poverty until the program is cut or reformed. Again, ambition takes a back seat. As Rudyard Kipling once said of socialism, "All men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins."
Watching the rioting in Greece, Great Britain, and Philadelphia ought to cause us to re- evaluate the social welfare networks. Have we created a nation of people addicted to government payouts? Politicians, the poor and some government workers have become addicted to the culture of dependence on taxpayer largesse, lashing out at anyone who would suggest cutting them. When reasonable people suggest ways to lower overall Medicaid costs, anger is the knee-jerk response.
Now key Democrats, in the epitome of irony, have notified the Supreme Court that they are challenging President Obama for his plan to allow states to determine the way they want to run the Medicaid program. They claim that allowing states to balance their budgets by ratcheting down Medicaid payments to physicians will decrease access to the poor. State legislators fear losing the half of the Medicaid funding that is federal, so are slow to do the right thing.
The government currently spends $1.40 for every $1 it receives in tax revenue. The next generation is being saddled with a debt they will never be able to repay.
As with narcotic addiction, the kindest solution is to help the poor understand their dilemma, show them that the government programs have trapped them in poverty and work toward a complete withdrawal from government schemes that take from one person and give to another. The solution is a culture of independence, more personal responsibility and self-reliance.
The AMA claims that "judicial enforcement is the only viable means to remedy states' noncompliance with the Medicaid Act.” (Robert Pear, NYT, August 8, 2011) The AMA believes in coercion.
The AAPS, on the other hand, recognizes the danger of allowing the poor to make demands on their caregivers. It endorses the dismantling of the huge government programs and replacing them with private interactions between physician and patient, privately owned insurance and finally real charity and real access to medical care for the poor.
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.