Friday, June 23, 2017

Government Places Money on the Table, and They Sweep it Up

Place money on a table, and someone will surely sweep it off.
Hospice, surely, does have a lot to be said for it. Comforting the dying is as about as honorable a thing as there is. And, a fair share of the care is nursing care, doing things for the patients such as washing them, helping them to the bathroom, and doing other such things to meet their needs. Both the love and the physical care are certainly wonderful things.
But, I wonder if we haven't created a program allowing people to plug into people's deaths as a way to make a buck. In 2014, Medicaid spent $15.1 million on hospice. That amounts to $11,393 for each hospice patient.
Who got the money? Did it go to the patients? Did it go to the families of the patients? Surely, some did, when family members were hospice workers. But, by far and away, the large share went to the hospice industry, an industry that makes a living off people's deaths.
I do not fault the workers. Bless them for what they do. But, I wonder about the industry.
I ran into a lady in the store tonight. She told me how her daughter had been on hospice for two-and-a-half years. I wondered how that had happened, since hospice is for those who are terminal and not expected to live but maybe six months. She answered that she is a hospice worker, herself, and that the program has evolved since its inception. Originally, only those whose lives were weeks from ending were allowed on the program.
But, that changed. Now, even after six months, you can get extensions.
Before I ran into this lady, I had already been thinking about writing on how hospice is an example of how, if you leave money on the table, someone will come along and sweep it up. If you have a government program where money is placed on the table for anyone who wants it, someone will sweep that money away.
Bless the hospice workers. Nothing is more honorable that comforting the dying. But, as for the industry itself, I have reservations. A record 1.65 million patients were on hospice in 2011. That was 2011. I can only imagine how the program has grown in the past six years.
Can we afford to have our government paying $12,000 for every projected death? Can we afford to do that when the money is going not to the families of the dying, but to corporations set up just to receive the money?
They see the money sitting on the table, and say, "We'll take that money. What do we have to do to qualify?"

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