Explosive Entitlement

Dennis Linthicum

Explosive Entitlement

Oregon’s Secretary of State, Dennis Richardson, reported last week that Oregon Health Authority may have failed to validate as many as 115,000 Medicaid recipient

Richardson estimated that potentially 86,000 of these individuals are ineligible for Medicaid coverage. On average, if every individual on Medicaid costs the state and federal government $430 a month, then the total fraud and waste is a whopping $37 million a month.

These are staggering numbers. You might wonder how Oregon gets away with such waste, and the sad answer is that we’ve come to believe an economic fallacy.

This fallacy, or false belief, is the idea of free money. Free money is the sought-after prize in politics, allowing the entrenched powers to create and continue state programs with little or no critical oversight.

Oregon’s legislature will often present the public with a grand solution for problems like the cost of college or healthcare. Unfortunately, their engineered solution always entails free money, which means that someone else will pay the bill.

Free money comes with strings attached. Salesmen offer these gimmicks all the time. It is an effective sales tool because of the personal discipline and hard work required to save, budget and plan. We should all know this instinctively, but the quick gratification that comes from signing onto that “no money down” new car can’t be beat. We can each imagine cruising down the Oregon coast in our shiny new SUV. Many lawmakers use this same technique to hide the real cost from the taxpayer while pitching a story that sounds too good to be true.

In Oregon’s case, along with free money comes bundles of regulations, mandates, taxes and penalties on Oregonians, all because lawmakers couldn’t be bothered to work for sustainable solutions.

Think about this concept with affordable or free health care.

When we need health advice, care or a prescription, we visit a healthcare provider. That becomes an external cost because we are buying a product or service, just as if we were paying for an oil change for our car or a cup of coffee from a barista.

We all realize that skilled people designed, engineered, tested, manufactured and distributed the thousands of medical machines we take for granted in our hospitals and doctors’ offices. We agree that it’s unfair to ask a doctor to go to school for years and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on education and then be expected to work for free. We certainly would not expect a scientist in a lab, designing new medical devices, the pharmacist at your local drugstore, or the receptionist at your doctor’s front desk to work for free either. These are skilled Americans doing needed jobs.

So, it appears that despite rhetoric about “free health care” as a right, it is the same as our no-money-down car analogy - it’ll definitely cost us, just maybe not today.

HOA Flowchart

In fact, our health care system is the most fiscally explosive entitlement ever conceived.

Its growth is a ticking time-bomb for two reasons. First, the person receiving the health care benefit is completely disconnected from the cost. You and I have no idea what our doctor’s visit costs. We don’t know what our pharmaceuticals cost or should cost because we either get them for free or make a small co-pay contribution.

Second, healthcare costs are hidden and shifted across the population. For example, all US men carry coverage for maternity, prenatal and postnatal care. This is the ultimate “hidden fee” because it applies charges to people who will never use the services. 

People can only make good decisions about healthcare with good information, including details about the costs involved. The current structure destroys the consumers’ ability to make wise choices about their own healthcare. People find themselves trapped in an environment where compliance with the rules, regulations and bureaucratic red-tape is a burden that becomes more difficult as they age.

Hidden costs also sabotage corrective pressure coming from consumers. Consumers are the best agents for communicating directly with their doctors and healthcare providers. However, without valid information the consumer becomes powerless.

As consumers look for help, government responds by sending in an army of bureaucrats armed with price-controls, regulations, and reporting requirements. Unfortunately, their intervention is after they created the problem in the first place.

Obamacare, like the 1965 enactment of Medicare, did not erupt spontaneously on the American political scene. In truth, this mess has been festering and growing, like malignant cancer, since the Progressive political movement sought power through government control during the early 1900’s. Socialized medicine and centralized control over healthcare is the Progressive’s dream.

There is no good reason for bureaucrats to substitute their opinions into the relationship between the patient and his, or her, doctor. Individuals deserve control over their own healthcare and putting patients back in control is our only answer.

In closing, we have our work cut out for us. It will take enormous amounts of energy, tenacity and courage to return to free choice in our healthcare markets.

Remember, if we don’t stand for rural Oregon values and common-sense – No one will!

Best Regards,


Dennis Linthicum
Oregon State Senate 28

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1728
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-415, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: sen.DennisLinthicum@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/linthicum