Grassroot Perspective – May 2, 2003-The Galen Report; Bailing Out the States; The Future of Medicaid: Consumer-directed Care; Single Payer Singularly Unsuccessful; Americans Need a Market for Medical Progress; Zero Tolerance or Zero Common Sense?

article top

“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– 03/2003 The Galen Report

By Grace-Marie Turner

Published: The Heartland Institute 03/01/2003

Nobel laureate Milton Friedman has long been interested in health policy
and the importance of reforms that will promote greater individual

I had written asking to meet him, so as to get his guidance on carrying
free-market ideas forward in what should be the best climate for
progress in well over a decade.

He reinforced his concern, detailed in an article he wrote in the Winter
2001 issue of The Public Interest, about government expenditures
accounting for 45 percent of total health spending in the United States.
“We are headed toward completely socialized medicine and are already
halfway there, if in addition to direct costs, we include indirect tax

He insists it is important to stay focused on the big picture but admits
his policy prescriptions may not be politically feasible. He advocates
repealing the tax exemption for employer-provided medical care;
terminating the existing Medicare and Medicaid programs; deregulating
most insurance; and restricting the role of government, preferably state
and local rather than federal, to financing care for the hard cases.

He believes realistic first steps should focus on liberalizing the rules
governing medical savings accounts, and allowing Medicare beneficiaries
to have access to the funds allocated on their behalf, first to protect
against catastrophic medical expenses, then to have freedom in spending
for routine care.

A strong advocate of MSAs, Friedman was very interested to learn about
the new Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) authorized by the IRS
last summer to essentially give medium-sized and large companies the
opportunity to offer MSA-like products to their employees. We discussed
the need for either legislation or a new ruling that will allow employee
ownership of the money they save in their HRA accounts.

Those of us who slog in the trenches of public policy details every day
do well to be reminded of the goal: Individual control over health
spending decisions in a free and competitive marketplace that responds
to empowered consumers.

– Bailing Out the States

By Editorial Board

Wall Street Journal, 01/08/03

The best way to help states out of their current fiscal crises is to
reform the mandates Washington imposes on governors, especially through
Medicaid, says the Wall Street Journal. Federal aid, as suggested by
Democrats in Congress, would be “a perverse reward for the wildly
irresponsible spending of many states during the 1990s boom, and a
punishment for the taxpayers of those states–like Colorado–that lived
within their means.”

The best solution is a simple block grant states can use as they see
fit. States should also try to reform Medicaid themselves by applying
for HIFA waivers from the Department of Health and Human Services. “The
solution lies in scrapping its ineffective price controls and
bureaucracy in favor of a market-driven system,” the Journal says.
“Washington can help states make the shift, through legislation or
regulatory waivers. The last thing it should help them do now is bail
out a broken system.”

Full text (requires subscription):,,SB1041986156855220544-email,00.html

– The Future of Medicaid: Consumer-directed Care

By Jim Frogue

The Heritage Foundation, 1/10/03

“Congress and state officials should embark on an ambitious program of
comprehensive Medicaid reform,” says Jim Frogue of the American
Legislative Exchange Council. He suggests a good model is the Cash and
Counseling program that allows certain Medicaid beneficiaries to
purchase their own services, with the help of a consultant, using a
defined contribution from the state’s Medicaid program. The beneficiary,
not government bureaucrats or politicians, decides where, when, and by
whom his or her care will be delivered.

Cash and Counseling programs in Arkansas, New Jersey, and Florida have
experienced nearly a 100 percent satisfaction rate because consumers are
making their own health care decisions, Frogue writes. “Instead of
perpetuating the same old policy discussions, the new Medicaid debate
must begin to focus on how the current system can be restructured to
accommodate the beneficiaries and the doctors, hospitals, and other
health care professionals who serve them in the most effective manner

Full text:

– Single Payer Singularly Unsuccessful

By Linda Gorman

The Independence Institute, 01/13/03

A single-payer system is not the answer to Colorado’s health care
problems, says Linda Gorman, a senior fellow at the Boulder-based
Independence Institute. “The largest single-payer systems in the United
States, Medicare and Medicaid, have sabotaged private health care by
systematically over promising, over regulating, and underpaying,” says

A better solution is market-based reform that reduces cost. According to
the RAND health insurance experiment, consumers who used their own money
to buy health care reduced spending by 30 percent without any
detrimental effects on their health. A medical savings account plan
(MSA) in Denver could save a couple with two children and average
medical expenses about $500,000 over 40 years.

Gorman concludes, “Fifty years of experience has shown that single-payer
systems produce lousy health care at exorbitant cost. Isn’t it high time
to try something else?”

Full text:

– Americans Need a Market for Medical Progress

By Robert L. Pollock

Wall Street Journal, 1/22/03

Spending more on health care may not be a bad thing, says Rob Pollack of
the Wall Street Journal. “If you attribute even minimal dollar value to
an added year of healthy life, and a small portion of increasing life
span to better medical care, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that all
that money is more than justified by the results,” says Pollock. “If
you’d like the survival rates for cancer and other diseases to keep
rising, the inescapable conclusion is that we don’t have a cost crisis.
If there’s a crisis, it’s a crisis in the way health care is financed.”

Pollock proposes reforming health care financing by explaining to
consumers the true cost of health care, “reacquainting them with the
real meaning of insurance,” and replacing Medicare with a system in
which the government would buy beneficiaries private insurance “rather
than handling all the bills itself.”

Full text (requires subscription):,,SB1043198505297759864,00.html

Above articles are quoted from the Heartland Institute, Health Care News
March 2003

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Zero Tolerance or Zero Common Sense?

By Phyllis Schlafly

April 23, 2003

Parents are laughing at the intolerance of the zero tolerance rules that
have been instituted in so many public schools. Laughing, that is,
unless it is their own sons who are victimized by policies that seem to
lack common sense.

It’s a serious matter when a good kid is expelled from school,
suspended, or sent to a detention facility to take classes with real
delinquents. Here are some recent examples of how the zero tolerance
hatchet is wielded in public schools.

A first grader at Struthers Elementary school in Youngstown, OH, was
suspended for ten days for taking a plastic knife home from the school
cafeteria in his book bag. The six-year-old wasn’t threatening anyone;
he just wanted to show his mother he had learned how to spread butter on
his bread.

A third grader at O’Rourke Elementary School in Mobile, AL, was given a
five-day suspension for violating the substance abuse policy after
classmates reported that he took a “purple pill.” His offense was taking
a multivitamin with his lunch.

At LaSalle Middle School in Greeley, CO, three 13-year-old boys were
given one-year suspensions because one of the students brought to school
a key chain from which dangled a 2-1/2-inch laser pointer. The school
called it a “firearm facsimile” and sent one of the boys (a good student
who had never before been in trouble) to an alternative program where he
is taking classes with young criminals and juvenile delinquents in
“anger management,” “conflict resolution” and gangs.

Four kindergartners at Wilson Elementary School in Sayreville, NJ, were
suspended for three days for playing a make-believe game of cops and
robbers during recess, using their fingers as guns. This case is now
before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

When seven 4th-grade boys (who had never previously been in
trouble) at Dry Creek Elementary School in Colorado were discovered
pointing “finger guns” at each other while playing a game of soldiers
and aliens during recess, the principal found them in violation of the
school’s zero tolerance policy. After quizzing them about whether their
parents owned guns, she required them to serve a one-week detention
during lunchtime, sitting in the hall where they were teased and taunted
by other students.

An eight-year-old at South Elementary school in Jonesboro, AR, was
punished with detention for pointing a chicken strip at another student
in the cafeteria while saying “pow, pow, pow.”

A seven-year-old at the Edgewood Independent School District in San
Antonio, TX, was banished for eleven days to an “alternative school” for
troubled students when he was caught bringing a pocket knife to school.
For three days, he was the only first grader at the facility among older
students guilty of serious offenses.

A 12-year-old at Magoffin Middle School in El Paso stuck out his tongue
at a girl who declined his invitation to be his girlfriend. School
administrators called this sexual harassment and suspended him for three

When the Fred A. Anderson Elementary School in Bayboro, NC, held a
Camouflage Day, a nine-year-old proudly came in his new duck-hunting
outfit. His joy was smashed when the teacher discovered an empty shotgun
shell in his pocket left over from a weekend outing with his father, and
punished the straight-A kid with a five-day suspension.

In Hurst, Texas, a 16-year-old honor student was expelled from high
school after a security guard found a butter knife in the bed of his
pickup truck parked on the school grounds. The knife apparently fell out
of a box of household items he and his father had transported the
previous day from his grandmother’s home to a local Goodwill store.

School officials claimed that the butter knife was a danger to other
students and placed him in a disciplinary alternative school for five

Two eight-year-old boys who pointed paper guns at classmates in
Irvington, NJ were charged with “making terrorist threats.” A judge
ultimately dismissed their case, but the incident may remain on court
records until the boys are 18.

In a North Carolina pre-school called Kids Gym Schoolhouse, the state
evaluator deducted five points from its high rating because plastic
soldiers were found in the play area. The toys were said to “reflect
stereotyping and violence and can be potentially dangerous if children
use them to act out violent themes.”

Zero tolerance is not protecting us from terrorists or criminals. It is
making good kids disrespect school authorities.

Almost all zero tolerance rulings punish boys. Boys are also the victims
of the current fad to eliminate recess and build new schools without

It’s beginning to look as though these fads can’t be mere stupidity. By
banning games boys like to play and preventing them from running off
their excess energy during recess, this nonsense may be part of the
feminist agenda to try to make little boys behave like little girls.

Read this column online:

Above article is quoted from Hawaii Eagles *

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the
right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the
work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who
shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan — to do all
which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among
ourselves, and with all nations.” — Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural
Address, March 4, 1865.

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He can be reached at (808) 487-4959 or by email at:”’ ”’For more information, see its Web site at:”’