I was struck by an opinion piece in the 7/22/12, Sunday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Want free heath care? Show up at 5:00a.m." It was authored by James E. Causey, a Journal Sentinel editorial writer, columnist and blogger. Mr. Causey’s purpose was apparently to criticize all Republicans who advocate the repeal of ObamaCare with its replacement by the implementation of sensible solutions to control costs, improve quality and increase coverage. He does this by citing a few cases of individuals who had to appear at one of Milwaukee’s 38 health clinics that treat patients free of charge. Normally, this particular clinic, staffed by medical students, will see the first thirty patients, but because some of the medical students were on summer vacation, only fifteen could be accommodated that particular day.
The first thing that occurred to me is that there is no such thing as "free health care." While the patients might not be charged, there are extensive costs to operate the medical clinic. Who might be picking up the tab? Well, the hospital sponsoring the clinic for one as well as the medical college sponsoring the medical students. Where do their funds originate? Certainly add ons to paying patient charges, picked up directly by a patient or insurance. Then there are local, state and federal grants that can be traced back to the taxpayers. So the taxpayer is really the sponsor of the so-called "free health care" through additional insurance charges, higher direct payments and an increase in taxes.
Mr. Causey empathizes for the patients who have to line up for the clinic care – including such illnesses as a stomach ache, dizzy spells and a swollen knee. All of them apparently had medical insurance, but dropped it because of cost. One lost Badger Care coverage because her employer gave her an increase in salary beyond Badger Care earning limits. The question this raises is whether these patients made a choice to drop medical insurance based on other priorities? Did they make a conscious decision that cable TV, Internet service, cell phone, eating out, Potawatomi, movies, etc. were higher priorities than medical insurance? Mr. Causey does not address this issue. Instead he prefers to report "cruel facts" of poor medical care, blaming Republicans who have expressed great concern that ObamaCare will cost American taxpayers some $2.6 trillion by 2023.
I am confident that even the most conservative Republican has no wish to deny needed medical care to the truly needy. This country became great on individual responsibility. It is now in decline as the entitlement mentality continues to grow. We can only hope that an opinion shaper like Mr. Causey gets an epiphany and realizes that there’s no such thing as a "free lunch" in our country. Everything, including "free health care," must be worked for, earned and paid for.