This news article highlights the most needed entitlement reform

I read a terribly depressing investigative news article. The piece, “A Maine nonprofit paid its disabled workers less than minimum wage, while its executives got six figures,” is like the perfect example for so many of my frustrations with social service provision in our state and country.

It is imperative that anyone who has ever uttered the phrases welfare reform or entitlement reform clicks on that hyperlink and reads that article thoroughly.

I could use the article as a base to write a post about what can go grossly wrong when social services are privatized and subject to market morals. Or a post about why welfare/entitlement reform really has little to do with recipients, but everything to do with the provision of the programs.

Or a post about underlying, undiscussed factors contributing to dramatically rising healthcare costs, especially in the Medicaid program.

Instead I’m going to use it as the anchor for a post about the single biggest entitlement reform needed … okay, maybe third biggest. The first would be shoring up social security by raising the income ceiling for income subject to social security tax.

(Yes it is actually that simple, but our crazy politicians would rather argue for decades about anything but that simple solution.)

The second would be shoring up Medicare by making it the single insurer to whom those who can afford to pay more do and those who can’t don’t. (Again with the “it is that simple,” but cue all the boohooing from all the special interests.)

A single payer system would leave our elected officials able to govern over actual healthcare innovations and cost saving measures in a single system to which they belong instead of quibbling over which crumbs should be available to which populations, while they rest easy with their cushy guaranteed coverage.

Which brings me back to the third biggest needed entitlement reform: understanding that entitlement programs are the sign of a healthy, thriving country that can afford to have secular morals and values and a sense of responsibility to its own.

In short: if you’ve ever uttered the phrase entitlement reform in a way that at all suggests there’s something wrong with the existence of programs like Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, SNAP, TANF, etc., you, my friend, are the entitled one.

Why not call those programs subsidies instead of entitlements the way politicians do when government money goes to the for-profit private sector?

The article that prompted this post didn’t tell the story of program recipients who felt entitled. It told a story of program recipients who were doing everything they should. They were taking care of themselves and their conditions to the best of their ability.

They were proudly maintaining employment to the best of their ability. But the people contracted to manage their employment best interests paid some of them a sub-minimum wage, while upper level management was compensated in salaries that can best be described as a windfall.

And, as the article discloses, this organization received a significant portion of its funding from Medicaid.

It’s so depressing because the reflects an ongoing sensibility that people our society have labeled as disabled have less value or less dignity. Or that people living around the poverty line deserve to be there for some reason or another.

That kind of entitled thinking needs to stop. I honest to goodness don’t know what else to say except please read the article. I’m purposefully keeping this short so you will. Click here if you ignored the first hyperlink.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.