"Politicians must justify their existence in managing affairs of state. They first create the problems and then they are delighted with all the activity in expanding government and solving the very problems they created." Congressman Ron Paul.
The city of Worcester is about to embark on an ambitious endeavor. The officials in charge promise that this endeavor will be the most intensive, comprehensive and best managed approach to getting the citizens off the couch and off the crack. It is Worcester's Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) and the goal is to make the city the healthiest in New England by the year 2020.
Better dust off those old 8mm reels we captured from 1945 Germany of all those blond children doing gymnastics in the Bavarian countryside cause we may need some pointers here. I am glad they chose 2020 as the target date cause this is Worcester. Just a little FYI there guys.
According to the 'acting' Commissioner Dr. Michael Hirsh, "...the evolution of the health system over the last four to five years is... still moving way too fast to be met by current economic resources."
No kidding Einstein! Conservatives for the past four to five years have been saying that the so called Affordable Healthcare Act is anything but affordable. When Dr. Hirsh talks about an 'economic resource' what he really means is our wallets. That eye of Mordor once again sweeps the countryside looking for the next revenue enhancement.
Just how fast are things moving?
Director of Worc. Public Health Derek Brindisi has brought several redundant agencies together under one program so they can all be redundant together in one room. It is called CHIP and there are five high priority areas they are going to concentrate on.
1: Healthy eating/ Active living
2: Behavioral health
3: Primary care/ Wellness
4: Violence/ Injury protection
5: Health equity/ Health disparities
The plan isn't all that new either. It is already in place in the surrounding towns of Worcester herself. Private health service Common Pathways and U-Mass Memorial Hospital have worked that standard business and government partnership that we have seen time and time again. No conflict of interest here though, nothing to see here.
The Greater Worcester Community Foundation (notice all the titles) forked over $75,000 dollars of grant (er, our) money and hired the consulting firm Health Resources in Action. They essentially came up with this plan. After all isn't that what $75,000 is supposed to buy?
In 2012 a CHIP Advisory Board (more titles) was formed along with seventy other organizations. Together they adopted the plan. They conducted surveys, made a nifty Facebook page with links on the city's website. They all worked really hard at being transparent.
Here is who gets to run what.
DPH spokesperson Nicole Valentine goes from media hack to heading up Priority #1. VP of Community Relations at U-Mass Memorial Monica Lowell heads up priority #3. 'Acting' Commish Hirsh gets priority #4. Derek Brindisi get #5. Karen Johnson gets door #2. I have no idea who she is and could care less.
All the right people perfectly placed, carefully chosen. The office furniture should be here on Tuesday. I wonder who is overseeing all this activity? To be sure 'mandates' are soon to follow based on their 'findings'. Social Workers could soon become 'authorized' to carry out the 'findings'. Since the passing of the AHA, the failure of the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution and a second Obama term be prepared for more of this smiley faced, well intentioned, because we care fascism.
Currently the schools in Massachusetts are required to measure the BMI of children in the first, fourth, seventh and twelfth grades (MGL Chapter 71, Section 57 and 105 CMR 200.500). I received one of those forms and wrote "go F yourself" on it. Seriously! I did! And you should too! It is called Article 4 of the United States Constitution.
Derek Brindisi and his band of merry medical pencil pushers are all in favor of programs like this.
One area they are concerned with is the rise of prescription drug use amongst children. 18.6% of all 17-18 year olds are on meds of one sort or another in Massachusetts alone. A large portion of those prescriptions are serotonin re-uptake inhibitors for ADHD. It has gotten so bad today that any poor kid who so much as daydreams during Algebra class could be diagnosed with ADHD. The State is empowered to enforce treatment if parents refuse to comply.
CHIP gets into your driving habits too. Derek conjures up what I wrote about in my last blog. Financial Incentives from insurers. Insurance companies already give rewards for good driving and accident free driving but somehow Brindisi thinks more government fingers in the pie is a good thing.
".. We're looking at maybe a pilot program with local insurance providers or work with the state Legislature." Gee, thanks Derek, just what Massachusetts doesn't have enough of. More laws.
It may just be a pilot program now but given the current trend towards socialism in America the possibility of this program becoming mandated is very real. It is what Congressman Ron Paul calls a "Moral Hazard". His use of the term "Blowback" could easily fit here as well. "... the whole notion of the safety net permeates a welfare or socialist state... with any problems that come as a consequence of unwise... personal behavior." He goes on to add, " Moral Hazard breeds dependency, neglect and sacrifice of Liberty."
There may be some monkey wrenches thrown into the works though. It is the funding. I am not sure where these guys plan on getting the money from. No numbers were bantered about. However, there are some interesting correlations that bare mentioning.
First, here are some socio-economic factoids about Massachusetts.
Business growth in the state is flat. Population has been flat to negative over the last decade. Unemployment is (statistically) 6.7% but that doesn't count the millions who fell off the grid. The dependency rate will continue to climb. Perhaps a program like CHIP will become self fulfilling and self sustaining.
To further the financial burden, Dr. Doolittle Deval Patrick is floating the idea of a 20% income tax hike. God only knows where that money will end up. Maybe it will go where all the tax and settlement money from Big Tobacco went. According to Stephen Shestakofsky the retired Director of the advocacy group Tobacco Free Massachusetts 99% of all the shaken down settlement money has gone elsewhere. It was supposed to go to health initiatives ans smoking 'awareness'. That was the whole point behind a 1992 referendum approved by Massachusetts voters. 40% of all raised tax money was to go into health care. That is 99% of 254 million dollars. On top of that there was over 561 million dollars in tobacco taxes collected in 2012 alone that went up into the sky never to be seen or heard from again. Phillip Morris alone has paid over 59 billion dollars in settlements to forty-eight states. That is roughly 65 million dollars a day for Massachusetts. Only 8 million is being spent.
CDC gives Massachusetts an F for it's anti-smoking initiatives. Director Joan E Hamlett of the Central Massachusetts Boards of Health, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Alliance--(say that three times fast and you will need a cigarette and a drink)-- has seen her budget go from 54 million in 1994 down to 2.5 million in fiscal 2012 The state has clearly mismanaged this money and is in direct violation of the will of the voters.
Progressives are the most transparent ideology I have ever seen. Since the turn of the century into the 20's, 30's, 40's and especially the 60's Progressives have worked tirelessly right under our noses to put a smiling, happy face on raw, unbridled acquisition of power and intrusion into every facet of our private lives. We vote them in over and over and over again. Transparency!
The efforts of Derek Brindisi are commendable and I wish him the best of luck. There is just under a billion dollars floating around out there somewhere if he can get the Bacon Hill Mobsters to open up the public coffers. The idea though, is nothing more than an offshoot of the mindset that government always needs to do more. CHIP can go into the barrios of Worcester all they want and they won't make one bit of difference. I see the personal behavior everyday at my job. You cannot legislate morality let alone personal behavior. Poverty has been and always will be. If the healthcare industry wants to help the poor and disenfranchised give them a job. Even the most menial of work will get people off the couch and put purpose back into their lives. That alone, just feeling purposeful again can improve any one's mental and physical well being.
....And That Is The Diatribe....