Never Know Unless You Ask

There’s an odd omission from Steve Peoples’s article about the new medicine copays for impoverished recipients of state aid. We get the policy’s numbers:

McCaffrey is among 14,000 impoverished Rhode Islanders on fee-for-service Medicaid who will be asked to shoulder a portion of their prescription drugs — $1 for generics and $3 for brand-name drugs — as of Oct. 1. The fees were enacted by the General Assembly in the state budget, part of a larger effort to close a massive budget deficit.
State officials say the copays will save state taxpayers nearly $600,000.
McCaffrey, who is disabled and receives $680 each month, estimates her monthly drug costs will grow to about $16.

We get the sad story:

McCaffrey, 47, needs medicine to function. The disabled Providence woman takes eight medications each day for a list of ailments that include major depression, asthma, diabetes and posttraumatic stress disorder.

We get the incensed calls for the government to spend money advertising a loophole:

“It’s outrageous, shameful really, that DHS made a deliberate decision … not to tell people that, under federal and state law, the drugstore has to fill their prescription if they are unable to afford the copay,” Mary Curtain, a paralegal with Rhode Island Legal Services, said at yesterday’s hearing.

We even get the Rhode-Island-suffers-in-a-national-comparison factoid:

In charging copays for this program, Rhode Island is not unique. More than 40 states already do, according to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

But nobody in the story offers — nor does Mr. Peoples ask about — suggestions of familial or community charity. Apparently, nobody worth quoting for the story is able to come up with creative ideas for helping the most needy among us drum up sixteen bucks a month for medicine. How about a jar at the pharmacy counter? How about a community fundraiser? What if kids — under the heading of Civic Participation — volunteered for short bursts of work (either in pharmacies or elsewhere) and donated their pay to a copay fund?
Why, in this state, must it always be career advocates pushing the government to find ways of forcing one group of citizens to bankroll another? Sure, the extra government spending for this program, set apart from the rest, amounts to very little for the average taxpayer, but it is not set apart, and the very littles add up. As for the costs to the individual in dependency and to the community in apathy, those are incalculable.

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bam in barrington
bam in barrington
13 years ago

Justin, I saw this article in the ProJo this AM on the train to work in Boston. I didn’t read the whole article so I thank you for this posting which forces me to go back and read the whole ProJo story.
I am pleased to see Mary Curtin’s input. Though you condescendingly refer to her as a “career advocate”, I know Mary Curtin and I see that she is doing what she does best: Advocating for the poor and those on the margins of society here in RI, just as all her co-workers at Rhode Island Legal Services do.
As to Ms. McCaffrey: No, I don’t think she should have to beg to private charities to cover her co-pays. Let’s hope, Bro, you’re never disabled and have to live on $780 per month!
In conclusion may I say that you confirm and strengthen my conviction
never to vote for the cracked-pot cheap and cheesy Republican Right!

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Strange world you live in, Somebody from Barrington: Somehow you see indignity in turning to charitable fellow citizens, and yet, Ms. McCaffrey has been encouraged by your pals to publicly beg the government to do everything it can to force fellow citizens to give her money.
Putting that aside, I don’t see where I said that she ought to “have to beg to private charities to cover her co-pays.” Again, it’s a strange reality in which there is no difference between folks’ independently organizing to help those in need and those needy people begging.
Which side is “cracked-pot cheap and cheesy”?

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

I want to know why it’s inappropriate to ask your family for the $16 to cover those drugs but it’s okay to shake ME down for the money.

Frank
Frank
13 years ago

I’ve always been curious as to why some believe the moral high ground supposedly lies with forcing people you don’t know for a handout rather than asking family, friends, and people you do know to voluntarily donate.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>In conclusion may I say that you confirm and strengthen my conviction never to vote for the cracked-pot cheap and cheesy Republican Right There’s also a larger “chicken and egg” issue here. On the one hand, virtually all of us are agreeable to helping those who cannot help themselves, i.e., those with serious physical and/or mental challenges (not of their own making, e.g., drug abusers’ problems are at their own hand). Leaving aside for the moment the philosophical (and practical) issue of private charitable efforts being more effective than bureaucratic government efforts (not to mention the voluntariness vs. coercive nature between them) … To the extent that there is resentment on the part of us members of the “cheesy Republican Right” it is over the ever-increasingly burden upon ourselves and our families of supporting “social programs.” Further, it is “fair” for us to not to distinguish among the recipients of those programs, for that is what the “poverty advocates” demand that we do. The poverty advocates won’t distinguish between the “needy” who are in that situation through no fault of their own, and those who of their own free will have chosen to be “needy,” e.g., single young women producing litters of illegitimate children that they can’t afford. So as the burden of supporting these programs increasingly burdensome and unreasonable – both as to cost and ineffectiveness – it is eminently justified for those of us who are forced to foot the bill to oppose. For the poverty advocates to then use a sympathetic example of a recipient as a poster child to portray opponents as “greedy” is beyond disingenuous. Collectively the poverty advocates need to look in the proverbial mirror – so long as they refuse to distinguish between the innocent needy and the “by choice” needy, and demand… Read more »

SusanD
SusanD
13 years ago

“The poverty advocates won’t distinguish between the “needy” who are in that situation through no fault of their own, and those who of their own free will have chosen to be “needy,””
Yes. Because it is not pertinent to the continued employment of said advocates.
“As for the costs to the individual in dependency and to the community in apathy, those are incalculable.”
Exactly the point. Again, it is irrelevant to both the advocates and the politicians who think it gets them votes to use tax dollars to encourage destructive behavior.
bam of Barrington, I look forward to your answering Greg’s question.

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