Re "State split on health proviso," Jan. 16 article:
Rep. Tracy Edge was criticized in this article for helping a proviso to pass in 2008 to prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from decreasing reimbursements to doctors. Actually, he is one of a handful of elected state and national leaders that understands what happens when DHHS opens the floodgates to more and more welfare (Medicaid) recipients. S.C. is allowing 5,500 new welfare recipients each month in S.C. Instead of closing the gate or limiting participation, we now have such a tremendous welfare population our state is looking to cut many needed services.
South Carolina has a shortage this year of $228 million and next year's projection is about $600 million for government run health programs. Rep. Edge had the foresight to see the increase in Medicaid recipients, and he knew our state would run out of money trying to care for so many. He knew that if S.C. accepted the stimulus money two years ago, and if Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were passed, it came with federal mandates on loosening the belt on the poverty level in order to increase Medicaid enrollment.
The dentists in South Carolina have not had an increase in our fees in the past 12 years. Medicaid and Medicare pays under one third to one half our normal fees for most services performed. On top of that, DHHS continues to find more and more ways to deny coverage for services performed thereby reducing our fees collected to sometimes one-fourth our normal fees. The majority of my profession has quit (or talks about not accepting) Medicaid because it is an exhausting effort to jump through all the hoops of government bureaucracy for such little pay. Those of us that chose to accept such little money from Medicaid and Medicare do so for ethical and moral reasons, not financial gain. The proviso was to try and prevent more doctors from leaving this failing government-run program. The fact that so few doctors and dentists accept Medicaid and Medicare patients should be a glowing red flag that it is not the doctors' fault our state is in a financial panic. It is the volume of patients DHHS has let into the system.
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Welfare is way out-of-control, and our governments need to restructure DHHS. Restructuring should consist of regulating DHHS to provide Medicaid for the disabled and mentally challenged, and for the real poor. Medicaid should not be for the pretend poor. The pretend poor are running up our debt and preventing the proper care for those who deserve and need it most. Getting these individuals off welfare and back to work is a top priority - something that DHHS fails to do. The answers to many of our problems is to reduce government spending and debt, and to improve job creation.
I will finish with a question: If we forced illegal immigrants (not welcomed legal immigrants) to return home, then many jobs would open. Would many of our welfare recipients' scramble for those jobs, or continue to live off the dole?
Prickett represents South Carolina's oral surgeons on a local and national level as president of the state society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. He practices in Mount Pleasant.