It's an automatic response for some people to label anyone against Medicaid as being 'anti-poor' people. Those who voice their concerns that Medicaid consumes too much from state and federal budgets is considered to favor the 1% over the working class or the unemployed.
What if there were 2 people, a married couple, that were not only against the idea of Medicaid, but they also took action to reduce what they felt were the disastrous effects of this government program for the poor?
Introducing The Zarephath Health Center
Drs. John and Alieta Eck started the Zarephath Health Center in Somerset, NJ as a means to see and provide care for those with limited income, are on Medicaid or have no insurance at all.
One significant attribute of the Eck's free clinic is that the Zarephath Health Center doesn't cost taxpayers a single dime. This is a key distinction considering that Medicaid's percentage of state and federal budgets has consistently gone up over the years while people seek to make the best use of the money they do have.
The rising costs of Medicaid always leads to state politicians restructuring how Medicaid is provided.
Here is an example on how Massachusetts has looked to make Medicaid more of a benefit to patients.
After going over Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker's plan you'll see he is not saving money for the taxpayers of Massachusetts at all when it comes to Medicaid. Instead, he is just shifting the process of how Medicaid is paid for. Reduced amount of payments early on and a heavier more expensive payment load in the future.
In attempt to help Medicaid patients have easier access to doctors, some states have decided to increase how much money a doctor receives to see Medicaid patients. (Increased taxpayer costs).
On the other hand, by using a system of charity the Zarephath Health Center can see up to 400 patients a month without a single penny coming from taxpayer money.
While state and federal budgets are key issues, a more important concern is how good the quality of care is a patient receives when you compare Medicaid with a facility like the Zarephath Health Center.
As was just stated, Dr. Alieta Eck's free clinic sees up to 400 patients a month. The purpose for her health center is to provide normal patient visits to as many people as possible that currently cannot pay for their own care. A lot of her patients still choose to see her even though they have Medicaid.
These patients know that a personal direct relationship with a doctor is much more valuable than having to wait a longer than average time for limited access to a doctor as is often the case with Medicaid patients. See here, here and here.
This is a charity that Dr. Alieta Eck and her husband Dr. John Eck is in control of.
They schedule appointments with patients accordingly to make sure each patient's needs and concerns are addressed. They don't have to worry about a government mandate that forces them to see patients that they cannot provide proper care towards.
Having such a mandate can be a detriment to the patient when they are trying to see a doctor that only has so many hours in a day to see as many patients as possible. The attention to quality and care suffers..
Nice Story About a Local Town or Can Free Care Minus Government Funding Become Mainstream?
According to Dr. Alieta Eck, her research and communications with other doctors leads her to believe that what she does at the Zarephath Health Center can become standard protocol all across the country.
Dr. Eck mentions in a few interviews that there are many doctors who would love to provide time out of their weekly schedule to help provide free care to the poor. One hurdle that gets in their way is they are afraid of malpractice suits.
One solution that Dr. Eck believes will resolve this issue is why she 'is working to enact NJ S239 in New Jersey whereby physicians would donate their time caring for the poor and uninsured in non-government free clinics in exchange for the State providing medical malpractice protection within their private practices. She is convinced that this would relieve taxpayers of much of the Medicaid burden currently consuming 1/3 of the NJ budget.' (2)
Charity to Pick People Up
What is appealing to me about how the Zarephath Health Center works is that this is an example of true charity in action. Hundreds of people that currently have limited means are still being helped via the skill and volunteerism of people who care.
It's entirely possible that as people receive true charity care they might have a better chance of improving their own life conditions. Dr. Alieta Eck has stated that some patients that use the Zarephath Health Center during tough times have gone on to find jobs or a better income and lifestyle for themselves and are now able to handle paying for their own care at traditional health facilities.
During this election season we will no doubt hear accusations and promises from politicians when it comes to our healthcare system.
Pay attention to what your favorite candidate says.
Are these politicians just reshuffling your taxes but still using more of your state's and federal budget? Or is there a better way to provide care to patients in need without creating an ever increasing burden on taxpayer funds?
The Zarephath Health Center has proven for over a decade that true charity free of taxpayer involvement can work.
-- Ricky Moore
Regarding cases where malpractice issues come up:
'The exclusive remedy for injury or damage suffered as the result of any act or omission of the volunteer medical professional is by commencement of an action against the State in a court of competent jurisdiction.' -- In other words, patients should keep records of everything possible that is discussed in the event these records are needed to help prove their case in court.
While malpractice suits are unfortunate and do happen it shouldn't cast a shadow of not only the potential good that comes from charity care but the good that has already been experience by patients.
If the Zarephath Health Center sees up to 400 patients a month then we can be a little conservative and use 350 patients for my example. 350 patients a month adds up to 4,200 patients a year. Over the past 5 years would mean that up to over 20,000 patients have been seen and have had their needs addressed, again, without taxpayer money.
In my view this is a far more efficient system of healthcare than what we currently have in place for people with low incomes who are on medicaid.