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Addicted to Government

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.

Reader Comments (6)

The only problem with your recent article on AAPS "Addicted To Government" is that you are like Glenn Beck. You don't want to face the fact that the poor are many, and they really are here with us, and that there is no amount of private insurance, or charity that is able to help them.

You remind me of a true life story, in which in Poland during WWII, while the thankful Christians went to church, sometimes they could hear the trains loading in the distance with the Jews going off to their deaths. Their cries could be heard louder and louder. So that to drown out the noise of their cries, the choir was instructed to "sing louder", so they did not have to hear.

Thankfully, real Christians finally came to their aid, like Corrie ten Boom and others, but its people like you that want to drown out their cries, instead of help, that will one day be shameful for your actions.

All I can say is, shame on you. And don't write back, I don't want your excuses, nor appreciate you enough as a Christian, to want to get to know you.

Janet Loeffler
Grandmother to a little boy who was dropped from insurance when it was found he had cancer, at 8 MONTHS old.

August 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Loeffler

I think Ms. Loeffler is missing the point of the big picture the authort is trying to write about. While I think the drug addiction analogy misses the point, the point is our government has created a society of dependance, not creativity, not independence, and one that if in place in 1800 would never had led us to being the greatest nation on earth. More specifically basic health care should be viewed as a right such as education. As such it needs to be regulated, not controlled. It should not be totally capitalistic nor totally socialistic. CEO's should not make salaries of $100 million, but more like utility companies that are publicly traded companies and NOT government owned, and no CEO makes a salary like that. A good place to start, make sure everyone pays SOMETHING in income tax. WE ARE ALL US CITIZENS AND AS SUCH WE ALL SHOULD CONTRIBUTE, NOT BE DEPENDANT.

August 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Rein

I wonder if people who criticize Dr Eck have done as much as she has to help the truly needy?

August 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Revere

GREAT ARTICLE, GREAT ANALOGY. Addiction withdrawl is painful psychologically and physically. Many do not make it, and lives and families can be ruined

Government as currently operated and known could also be ruined. Hopefully there will be survivorship

I think widespread pain is unescapeable.

August 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterL BRODY MD

You know Mr. Rein, just saying our gov't has "created a society" of dependent people, does not make it so. Neither your words, nor those of the author, have proven that. Where are the statistics and proven scientifical type studies to prove what she says? She is a doctor, right? That means she's had to study these types of facts and ratios to pass college.

But what is a fact, is that when FL implemented its drug testing before getting welfare checks, guess what percentage fell in that category? So, out of 40 families tested, only 2 had tested positive, and one of those is going through appeal. Now what percentage would that be? How much does this program cost the taxpayers? I'm not saying not to have means testing, or limits, or whatever would be prudent to do to make sure money is going where it should. I'm just saying that I know they expected to clean up welfare with these tests, and all they've done is cost you FL taxpayers more money.

Why doesn't the good doctor, whom I'm sure does a lot for the needy, go after insurance companies? They are the ones who have ruined our healthcare system, not the gov't, which has had to fill the gap that the insurance companies won't.

Still, pathetic article. I wonder how much the pharma industry pays her to write this stuff?

August 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Loeffler

Mrs. Loeffler, from your posts it appears you have a particular animus against the insurance company that dropped coverage to your grandson, you have generalized the same alleged unethical behavior to all health insurance companies, and that because Dr. Eck did not point out the sins of the insurance industry related to the state of health care it has invalidated everything she has to say about health care reform. This is presumption on your part that is foolish at best and demagoguery at worst. Your statement that there is no amount of private insurance or charity that could help the poor flies in the face of American history when charity served the poor well – but then the modern understanding of charity differs from that of the early American model strongly influence by Christian ethics (see Professor Marvin Olasky's book The Tragedy of American Compassion as a starting point to get an understanding).

Having worked six years for hospitals in the area of patient accounting systems and well read on health care finance, one thing I quickly realized is that the federal government has a much greater influence in the health care economy than most people understand. By being the largest third-party payer the federal government has considerable influence on the current cost of health care today. There's just one problem: unlike the private insurance companies the federal government can continue to run up massive debts then either either ratchet up taxation or continue to devalue the national currency by printing more money. The later is much more devastating to the poor because their income doesn't generally increase proportionally with the inflation of the money supply, yet the “addicts” in Dr. Eck's story could care less. Unless you've lived in the “projects” and watched this in action over a few generations then you shouldn't be so quick to always cast “the poor” as helpless and without guile. I lived nearby this environment and my wife grew up in it and we are very familiar with the “entitlement culture.”

As Olasky and other historians and socials scientists have observed, modern welfare and charity have failed because there has been a moral and ethical decay in American culture which has affected how we think about human nature, poverty, and civil government. Poverty will never be completely eradicated but the poor can be effectively served through holistic approach to charity that deals with the soul as well as their material needs. Mrs. Loeffler, if you had just taken time to read Dr. Eck's biographical sketch you would see that her interest is not simply philosophical but rather she is an active participant in making a positive difference in health care reform especially dealing with the poor and those who don't have private insurance. Her and her husband's leadership to start the Zarephath Health Center, a free clinic for the poor and uninsured, is evidence of the kind of true religion that the Apostle James spoke of in the Bible. Dr. Eck's participation on the Board of Directors of the Christian Care Ministry ( is evidence that she is part of a decades-long effort to specifically to serve those who don't have private insurance by helping participants bear one another's burdens – not just spiritually but specifically related to their health care financial needs. Dr. Eck has evidenced a lively Christian faith that is personally involved in helping individuals and families in the area of health care, thus I respond by “seeing her good works and glorifying the Father in heaven.”

So Mrs. Loeffler I can only conclude that you either are blinded by your past experience with your grandson or you are one of the “addicts” Dr. Eck spoke of in her article. In either case unless you are actually doing something other than making false accusations about people and misjudging their motives, and demanding more benefits from the government (including dictating coverages to private insurance companies) then follow Dr. Eck's example and go do something productive instead of pounding out your invectives on the keyboard.

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRicardo Davis

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