The Village Family Service Center is taking federal money on one-hand, while Wolsky says, in his editorial published in their magazine, he does not believe in centralized government. Is he being a hypocrite? Joel asks the tough questions.
Here is the complete editorial:
Very soon we will begin building our 2014 fiscal plan for The Village Family Service Center. That’s not a problem in itself. Someone here has been doing that since 1891, and we’re generally pretty good at it—even with the large amount of unpredictable income that’s tied to most of the services we provide. But this year will be different. The wild card in this year’s planning—and it’s a big one—is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—also widely referred to as Obamacare.
First let me confess my bias—since Obamacare was passed in March of 2010, I’ve considered it an unmitigated disaster. I even emailed our three children and apologized for what my generation was about to do to them. My reaction to date has been based mostly on philosophy—a philosophy that says larger central government is ineffective, too distant and disconnected from its constituents, wasteful, prone to arrogance, and eventually corrupt. We have a great deal of history that clearly shows the ineffectiveness and failures of large central government.
Then you have the issue of basic freedom and the notion, I believe, that freedom and large government cannot occupy the same space. As government expands, freedom is diminished; and as government contracts, freedom expands. We see this in many aspects of our lives but none more evident than the fact regulations seem to be multiplying exponentially at an incomprehensible rate.
These days, The Village is subjected to literally dozens of audits and policy and program inspections per year. Our 990, the report we are required to complete for our beloved IRS, now runs about 45 pages—it used to be three. The combined cost of meeting the many government regulations, including our cost of the audits and staff time to complete the reports, is way north of $100,000 per year. In real terms, think of 100 kids per year who don’t get matched in our Big Brothers Big Sisters program due to ever-encroaching government requirements.
We’ve never had a problem with reporting to funders as we consider that an important responsibility to an organization that is “owned” by the community—i.e., United Ways, donors, and clients. We are happy to report our outcomes, financial data, and other data to our United Ways, donors, and clients—because, as I said, they literally own us. However, government-related reports have become so onerous, redundant, and complex that, at some point, they serve little purpose. So from the standpoint of both philosophy and close-up experiences, you can begin to see why I’m not warm to the concept of governmental intrusion.
And now comes Obamacare. I simply don’t understand how a nation could turn over one-sixth of its economy to the government, especially given the mountains of evidence we have which clearly depict its inefficiency, fiscal irresponsibility, lack of outcomes, and unintended consequences.
It occurs to me, also, that the Ten Commandments weren’t the 100 Commandments or the 1,000 Commandments—they were 10. They were simple and they remain timeless. It’s said that it took Thomas Jefferson 17 days to compile the founding documents of our country (after a lifetime of dedicated study of history, philosophy, and human nature by him and many others). Those documents represented about a dozen pages and gave birth to the most creative and workable form of government in the history of the planet. Compare this to Obamacare, which represents several thousand pages, was read by no one, and was passed in the dead of night. Do you see a contrast here?
Now, go back to the reality of our budget and trying to coax some meaning and predictability from the madness of Obamacare. So far, what has been evident is a good deal of chaos. At The Village, we are studying this new health care act feverishly, and are committed to making the best decisions possible in support of our incredible staff. They deserve, and will get, the very best of our abilities to navigate the realities of Obamacare. But some realities seem clear. It will most assuredly be more expensive—both for our staff and for The Village. It will also be more costly for you either as a recipient of services or as a donor. It’s way too early to know the “back room” cost of the required reporting and additional regulations associated with this, but we do know it will be significant.
The costs I’m referring to here are specific to what we’re anticipating at The Village and not the other numerous and unrelated taxes that will be implemented along with this bill. Adjacent to this editorial you’ll find a piece published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which actually forecasts the additional taxes associated with Obamacare.
What’s not clear, and won’t be for some time, is the likely degradation of the actual provision of health care. We have a model for this in the Veteran’s Administration (VA). One could look at the VA as a pilot program for a nationalized health care system. Although I would suggest that our local VA is a wonderful exception—which I believe is based on the work ethic, commitment, and general high quality of the local staff working there—the VA nationally does not have a reputation that’s terribly positive. We’ve seen its problems too many times on the evening news. Although there are exceptions, on the whole, it’s an embarrassment. And that seems to be what we’re in for.
I hope I’m wrong.
One last note: I’m very much aware of the fact our current system has many faults, inequities, inefficiencies, and problems. Perhaps doing nothing wouldn’t have been a responsible tactic. However, I believe fixing these problems on a small scale—perhaps using states as pilot projects—and relying on the creativity of the private sector would ultimately give us far better products, more efficiency, and better health care for more people.
** At press time, we were notified there will be a one-year delay in implementing major components of Obamacare. Stay tuned, as I believe the final chapters of this sad saga have not yet been written.
The opinions expressed in this column are strictly those of The Village Family Service Center CEO. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization, staff, or boards of directors.