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Meet Alex, a kid lost in the cracks of Idaho’s sprawling medical welfare program

Meet Alex, a kid lost in the cracks of Idaho’s sprawling medical welfare program

Wayne Hoffman
November 28, 2023

Boise Democrat Lauren Necochea says this time of year reminds her of “the ways in which we care for one another.” And, she writes, “[O]ne of the best ways we do this as Idahoans is through Medicaid” which “provides necessary care for our children, pregnant Idahoans, seniors who need nursing home care, and both adults and children with disabilities.” 

This is false. First, one doesn’t demonstrate compassion by using force to extract money from people who earned it in order to give money to others who didn’t. If I showed up at your house with a gun, aimed it at you, and said, “Give me all your money,” wouldn’t that be considered a crime?

My action isn’t made less criminal because I plan to use the money to help pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities. And no one would argue that my action was a demonstration of my “care for one another.” In the case of the state’s medical welfare program, the gunman is replaced by the taxman; there is no expression of compassion from one person onto another when government forcibly extracts funds from people under threat of law. 

In fact, such programs make it harder for people to commit money to legitimate charity cases because people assume government is “handling it.” And, of course, people have less money to commit to charitable causes because they’ve had some portion of their earnings taken from them by force. 

Moreover, the real tragedy of the state’s medical welfare program is how many people fall through the cracks of a program that isn’t designed for them. Medicaid is now quite often used to provide support for able-bodied, childless adults — people who “need” pharmaceuticals for depression and anxiety, for example. The program’s original target audience is left in the dust. 

This is the case with David, a dad from Kuna who came to our office a few weeks ago. David’s son Alex, is 15 years old, autistic, non-verbal, diabetic, and violent.

Recently, a deputy sheriff came to their house again after Alex, once again, hit his mother. Alex is on Medicaid, and David is spending hours trying to navigate a system that, at best, only offers Alex weeks and months confined to a padded room at a local hospital. 

Medicaid has done two things that are injurious to kids like Alex. First, government medical welfare provides politicians and the general public with the illusion that they’re addressing severe health concerns in the community when they’re not. Second, it absorbs resources out of the community and private sector because people think that government has the issues covered, leaving kids like Alex with a make-believe safety net. 

David is doing everything he can to get help for his son, and the state's medical welfare system, despite a 409% increase in spending over the last two decades, will do nothing more than warehouse children like Alex. 

This is not an appeal from me or David to throw more money at Medicaid. As I told David, I have been watching this horror show for 30 years. You can't fix the program. What you can do is get government out of the way and let the community show that it cares about kids like Alex with services tailored to his needs, not the needs of federal and state welfare bureaucrats and their rigid rules. 

In sharing this story, I'm also providing you with a link to a website where you can see for yourself what David and Alex are dealing with and how alternative treatments have benefited other severely autistic kids across the country. The link to watch these videos is www.idahofreedom.org/helpforalex.

Next legislative session, Necochea and establishment Republicans will call for an expansion of Medicaid yet again. Their plan won’t include kids like Alex. He’ll be left behind, as usual. Because helping kids like that is hard, expensive, and doesn’t generate enough votes or support from the medical-industrial complex.

If politicians really wanted to help, if they were really compassionate, they’d stop using force to extract money from communities and organizations so that Alex and kids like him can get help in the community from people who gave with their heart to help him through his plight. True compassion, and true demonstration of “care for one another” and for kids like Alex, is what will truly make the difference for the neediest Idahoans. 

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