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Jewish World Review July 25, 2005 / 18 Tammuz, 5765

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Consumer Reports

Unhealthy and unwise

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The devil has frostbite because hell has just frozen over. The New York Times, the elite media champion of government entitlements, has printed a "knock-your-socks off" investigation of Medicaid fraud in New York State.

The headline is that 40 percent of New York's $45-billion dollar-a-year Medicaid tab is paid to crooks who have figured out how to beat the chaotic system. The Times ran down a list of thieves including doctors, dentists, transportation providers and individuals. The paper did a nice job exposing the scams and fraud but just dented the crime wall, because to steal about $20 billion a year there has to be an army of villains, and there are.

Now, I don't think anyone is surprised that entitlement fraud is rampant in New York State, which is the highest taxed state in the union and has two U.S. senators who love the entitlement gravy train: Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. But the state also has an allegedly conservative governor, George Pataki. However, Pataki has little power because the State Assembly is controlled by perhaps the worst elected official in the country, Speaker Sheldon Silver, who makes Boss Tweed look like Elliot Ness. Silver has consistently and unrepentedly stalled bills that would provide more legal oversight on entitlement fraud.

So why should you care if you don't live in New York? Well, because the liberal mantra that all Americans are entitled to government-funded health care has gained momentum over the years and is likely to be one of the cornerstones of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.

Can you imagine the federal government sending checks out to hundreds of millions of Americans and their health providers? Can you just picture the chaos and the theft potential? We have massive fraud now with targeted health plans for the poor and elderly. Universal health entitlements would send the country into fiscal disaster.

The truth is that our Constitution does not mandate any responsibility on the part of the feds to pay you anything. There wasn't even a federal income tax withholding before 1913. But now the American Left has decided that a "compassionate" society must provide health care even though it is virtually impossible to do that in a nation of 300 million. The national health system in Canada is chaotic, and they have just 33 million citizens.

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I am not talking about an "every man for himself" national policy. Clearly, the federal government should provide responsible and effective safety nets for Americans who cannot provide for themselves. Nobody should live under a bridge, nobody should die for lack of a doctor. But government assistance should be well thought out and delivered in a targeted, disciplined way. So far, that has not been case not only in Medicaid but in most "Great Society" programs.

Rampant entitlements have bankrupted Germany and France, and the high taxation that fuels these programs has made it impossible for the German and French economies to grow. More entitlements and higher taxation in the USA would lead to the same situation. We have been warned.

It must be galling to the left-wing columnists at The New York Times that their own newspaper has illustrated the economic dangers of massive entitlement programs. People like Bob Herbert and Paul Krugman envision a quasi-socialist paradise where the feds provide you with everything from tranquilizers to a colonoscopy. And judging from the exposition of out-of-control Medicaid fraud in New York State, the colonoscopy reference is disturbingly appropriate.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.

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