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Entitlement

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NOTE: Governor Little has signed into law the Medicaid legislation referenced here.

I can understand legislative Republicans need to put sideboards on Medicaid Expansion. Since many government programs have become labeled “entitlements” we see them differently than if they were earned. I can understand legislative Republicans trying to fight people receiving a public benefit feeling entitled when others pay for it.

Many years back, I remember hearing two locals in a bar talking in the fall in central Idaho. One turned to the other, “You got your elk?”. He nodded, “You get yours?” My stomach was turning. Those animals they harvested were not theirs. Neither of these men were entitled to an elk. They should have been thankful to the Almighty for the harvest, but their words, their attitude conveyed that they felt entitled to “their elk”.

I was accepted to two colleges, one private and one state in my senior high school year. It turned out with the scholarships the private school ended up costing my family less, so I chose it. That was a big mistake. Because, for the next four years I spent time with a lot of classmates who felt very entitled to their enrollment, their opportunities, and the future they anticipated. I came to hate rich people, a prejudice I still struggle with.

Entitlement in the healthcare field can be brutal. Doctors can feel entitled to respect and income from their lofty positions; some patients feel entitled to a life free from pain and some consider they are entitled to a life beyond the natural course. We are only entitled to the grace of this life we have been given; every day we should give humble thanks.

Getting elected to represent our constituents can also give one a sense of entitlement. Indeed, the law and the process empower the elected official with the legal power to vote for laws that will constrain all of us. We are a nation of laws. Such is the nature of this republic. But I look for humility in the public servants I vote for. Maybe you don’t; humility doesn’t win a lot of votes.

I have considered all this as I watch the Idaho legislature struggle with Medicaid expansion, Proposition 2, the initiative Idaho voters approved by a substantial margin in November. It was an issue the legislature avoided for six years. But Idaho voters endorsed the plan to enroll people who could not access health insurance in the most cost-effective way. But the legislature has decided they know best and have proposed a new and different plan.

It now awaits the governor’s signature.

I appreciate the Idaho Republican legislator’s intent. But they have crafted the wrong solution.

Governor Little should veto this legislation. The reasons are clear.

First, it will keep more people in poverty. Evidence from other states clearly shows this. People with health insurance are more likely to look for work and stay at work than those without.

Second, it will grow government and add cost to Idaho taxpayers. Chasing down deadbeats from Boise is more expensive than looking them in the eye in our own communities and letting them know we expect more. Don’t think a government program like “Work Requirements” can absolve us from our own civic duty.

Third, there are no supports, “springboards” as Governor Little has described them, in the legislation. People might need help to get back to work, to climb out of the hole they are in. The help is out here; this legislation has no connection to these supports. It’s just a stick; no carrot.

Finally, I could point to the convoluted process this legislation has taken; more time, more effort could produce a better result.

The bill was introduced in a Senate committee, substantially changed through amendments on the floor of the Senate, then changed again on the floor of the House. It comes back to the Senate committee who did not support the amendments but the full Senate did, only because the House was holding a hostage bill: Medicaid funding.

I appreciate the intent. Nobody deserves to be entitled. Not even the Idaho legislature.
 

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