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"The Medicaid Jack In the Box"

An essay donated by Lamar McClain

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Most of us who were raised before the era of text messaging and video games remember the infamous childhood toy, the Jack in the Box. You would be almost lulled to sleep by the music and then out of the blue popped a grand surprise. I can almost hear the words to the rhyme:

"Round and round the cobbler's bench
The monkey chased the weasel,
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun
Pop! Goes the weasel."

It would seem that the Budget Reconciliation Act of 2005 also has a similar surprise buried in the middle of it. 1

We have all been lulled to sleep by the music that has been played for us. Music like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (H.R. 1308). 2

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Music like the very infrastructure of a democracy which forged a nation out of the intrinsic need for the freedom of religion.

Historically contributions to the religious community have been encouraged even by the irreligious because of the general good that these organizations have accomplished like after school programs and scout troops.

Aunt Bea is one of those people lulled to sleep by the music of our era. She believes in her church and for years has faithfully contributed to the mission of that organization. Her contributions helped fund the AA Program that meets on Tuesdays and the Soup Kitchen that feeds the hungry on Fridays.

As Aunt Bea began to age and her health began to fail she was forced to apply for entrance the Rolling Acres Nursing Home. Although this was a difficult moment for her, it was about to become even more painful. The Administrator at Rolling Acres read to her directly from Senate Bill 1932 and shared with her that all of her contributions to her church for the previous five years are now being counted against her and that she now has to repay the Government dollar for dollar for all of her church based contributions before she can enter Rolling Acres.

Although this sounds like a twisted Childs Tale, it is in fact the current law of the land. Current Medicaid regulations penalize seniors for contributing to their religious organizations as an expression of their religious freedoms.

What do we now tell Aunt Bea?

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References:

  1. "Deficit Reduction Act of 2005....Chapter 2: Reform of Asset Transfer Rules (Sec. 3111)," at: http://thomas.loc.gov/
  2. "Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. 107 STAT. 1488. Public Law 103-141. [Partially overturned for state-law matters on June 25th, 1997]," The Vaults of Erowid, at: http://www.erowid.org/

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Originally posted: 2006-MAR-20
Latest update: 2006-MAR-20
Author: Lamar McClain.

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