A few days ago, I made a comment to try to offer a bit of clarification regarding another commenter's statement about Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center on the "lack of support for the hospital from insured consumers." I have been asked to clarify my own remarks since making that comment, so I am posting them here, on my own blog. I was noting what was widely known among many in town--that it wasn't that insured folks didn't support the hospital; rather, it was Solaris steering some people toward its other facility, depending on the quality of their insurance.
I suggested that Solaris was culpable--not the Plainfield residents who certainly preferred Muhlenberg to going to another facility much farther away. Plainfielders and those in the area ALL supported Muhlenberg--indeed, it was known as one of the best facilities in the state. The "lack of support" for our hospital came from weak-willed politicians at the county and state level (including Gov. Corzine), NOT from the people of Plainfield, Scotch Plains, North Plainfield, South Plainfield, and the rest of the Tri-County area served by this regional medical center. I truly believe that immediate intervention--extreme pressure--could have stopped the closing of the hospital. Instead of blaming "indigent care" and "illegals" for the debt shortfall, the complicity of Solaris's highly-paid executives (along with insurance entities), in the hospital's closing was never really examined in-depth until it was too late. We all know the human cost of this complicity.
In one of my comments, I also stated that it was my view that medical care should be free. For expressing a philosophical/ethical viewpoint, my position was called "fiscally irresponsible." How expressing this view would make someone who knows nothing about my finances categorize it that way is insulting. To conflate my (perhaps Utopian) ideal with the suggestion that I possess no real-world sensibilities (indeed--my position being fiscally irresponsible) is unnecessarily belittling. I don't know that that was the intention, but the tone seemed patronizing.
Part of my raison d'etre on the Plainfield City Council is to be a watchdog for the city's spending which, in my view, needs to be scrutinized very carefully. I think that, by my votes thus far, I have demonstrated that I am putting the people of Plainfield first. I take the budget responsibility very seriously.
I would say, however, that my desire for a society where no one would have to pay for his or her basic medical needs is one that I think I will keep.