- By Dan Veaner
Normally I would be outraged that the County, time after time, spends time passing legislation on issues under another government's jurisdiction instead of focusing on important issues they do have authority over. And normally I would be opposed to a thing like the Affordable Care Act as an expensive, unsustainable social program. But in this case I oddly find myself in agreement with our County Legislature fighting for the repeal of a law that could put nearly 8,000 Tompkins County Residents at risk and take over $1 million away from the County's Medicaid reimbursements.
Starting with that last point, County officials have long argued that forcing counties to pay such a high cost for Medicaid means that property owners, many of whom are being taxed out of their homes or are on a fixed income are on the hook for the mandate. The alternative would be for the State to pay for Medicaid, which makes sense because wage earners, who are on an actual income, could better afford the burden. That makes sense. There are so many state mandates that have to be paid for by property taxes that it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue to own property.
Between April 2010 and July 2016, the US Census Bureau says 846,669 more people moved out of New York state than moved in, which is the largest exodus in the United States. Why are people leaving? You can get more for less in other states that are, despite what our hallowed Governor claims, are much friendlier to businesses and therefore have more jobs.
My second point is that the Affordable Care Act addresses, admittedly imperfectly, but it actually addresses something we all complain about: that health care has gotten so out of control that nobody can afford it. It would be satisfying to blame it on the greed of lawyers and drug companies and medical equipment manufacturers, and no doubt they all have something to do with it. Doctors are too afraid to diagnose any more because of the threat of malpractice suits and the tyranny of the insurance companies.
One result is that your general practitioner acts as a clearing house, farming your parts out to various specialists, and all those doctor visits add up quickly. Not to mention that patients are treated as a collection of parts, not whole people, which is not only expensive, but extremely rude.
My final point is that if something is broken and needs to be replaced, it kind of makes sense not to replace it until there is something better to replace it with. This issue is a case where a lot of Americans -- millions -- will be significantly hurt (and some will die as a result) if the Affordable Care Act is yanked out from under them with no viable alternative at all. Rather than just take it away, how about coming up with this so-far mysterious better alternative first, and have a gentle transition from the current system to the new, better one?
It ain't going to bankrupt the country by getting rid of it later. That's just politics. Politics, in general, are not good for people, even though government, theoretically is supposed to be.
Or, rather it ain't going to bankrupt the country to keep it a little longer. That should be plenty of motivation to come up with the 'better alternative' faster. Meanwhile, kudos to the Tompkins County Legislature for standing up for the people it represents. Lawmakers have participated in the disaster that is our health care system. They should be the ones to act responsibly and make responsible changes for the better in a logical and responsible manner. Besides, when something gets this messed up, who else can fix it?