Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Care for Kids

I must admit up front that I do not see the government as a great provider of services for those who are disabled. Government agencies are, as a rule, inefficient, slow, bureaucratic and greedy. I founded a Clinical Counseling agency called, Life Way Counseling Centers in 1989. We started as an in patient unit for adults and later set up a similar unit for adolescents. After operating the in patient units for some seven and a half years we closed them and continued to operate the out patient clinics.

Dealing with insurance companies is difficult. They can also be callous, inefficient and greedy. In fact, every organization is greedy to maximize its own financial health and welfare no matter what their mission. However, insurance agencies cannot be compared with government agencies in terms of bureaucratic behavior. Not that the people in government agencies themselves are uncaring but governmental agencies are bureaucratic.

I like the Wall Street Journal a lot. I especially enjoy a daily column called, The Best of the Web. The author, James Taranto, recently included a couple of letters from parents of children with disabilities. They spoke to the issue of government provided care for their children.

Taranto writes: "Friday's email from reader Gordon Calkins, who discussed his frustration with the government bureaucracy he has to endure in exchange for a little taxpayer money to help care for his autistic son, brought more stories from readers with similar experiences. Here is Nikki Stuart:"

Our eldest daughter, now 26, is legally blind and developmentally disabled. She gets Supplementary Security Income, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security disability.

The SSI and disability come up to about $620 a month. Medicare and Medicaid are a good thing, since she has no other income and is uninsurable anyway.

We homeschooled her K-12 (along with her four siblings), which I figure saved the state somewhere around $900,000, so the government is way ahead in terms of outlay.

Anyway, I agree with the writer with the autistic son. Our daughter would be much better off if the government would get its (left) foot off our necks, leave us alone, and free us up to make and keep some money to take care of her ourselves. The litany of the complexities of starting a small business and scratching up a couple bucks is surely too well-known to you to require a recitation here.

And this is from Bob Ellison:

I have a son with Down syndrome. He receives amazingly generous support via Medicaid from Pennsylvania: physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech training. All four of my sons are covered by my own health insurance, and I have to pay occasional copayment fees and other things for all but one: the one with Down syndrome. My insurance plan never pays a dime on him; Pennsylvania pays.

Twice I have investigated hiring therapists on my own nickel for my son: once for continuity, because he had an excellent therapist, and it takes time to to develop a useful relationship between therapist and subject; and once for extra support, because we wanted more help than Medicaid, generous though it was, could provide. I am wealthy and ready to pay for these things, but that does not help, because my son's therapists work for companies that contract exclusively with the state, and I cannot find alternatives, because the laws and regulations that govern such services make those industries beholden to government-paid systems. The government has created a monopoly; there are almost no workers outside the system.

In a nutshell, then:

1. I am wealthy, but I receive welfare.

2. My one son gets free health care from the state; I have to pay for the other three sons.

3. The government has frozen out other options.

Everything about this is wrong: I do not need and should not receive welfare, but I have no choice but to take it, because the workers cannot take my own money. My son with Down syndrome should not be treated as more worthy than my other three sons. And businesses should be free to provide goods and services as they see fit.
Is it fair for the Federal Government to force parents to accept only treatment provided by their therapists? Is it fiscally wise for the Federal Government to pay for the treatment of children with rich parents?

Middle Class Parents need financial support. Wealthy parents do not. More than finances, however, all parents need to be able to CHOOSE the best treatment for their children. No one knows these children and their needs as well as the parents. Why does the government forbid parents from getting additional treatment from good therapists?

More money is not the answer to every problem. We need parent informed answers not just more legislation and more bureaucracy.

What do you think is best for the children and families? Am I on track? Am I off base? Let me know your experience?

What will lower costs, increase flexibility and improve care? These are very important issues that impact some 20% of our children and their parents but 100% of all tax payers. (By the way, 45% of Americans pay NO Federal Income Taxes. Do you pay Federal Income Taxes?)

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