David Gottsegen: Loss of Medicaid would be devastating

Thursday, June 15, 2017
Loss of Medicaid would be devastating

Jay Fleitman’s column (“James Comey brouhaha ridiculous,” June 13) is beyond ridiculous. Maybe Fleitman is such a supporter of Donald Trump because they are so much alike: arrogant and ill-informed.

Like one of Trump’s speeches, Fleitman’s column veers from one subject to the next like a blindfolded boy in a bumper car. He repeatedly uses the phrases “I really don’t care” or “I do care” as if we’re supposed to really care about his bald assertions that the investigation into a foreign adversary interfering with our presidential election and coordination between that adversary and the Trump campaign was thrown out by Democratic leaders “hoping that this handful of spaghetti would stick to the refrigerator.”

This week, the Washington Post reported that the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into these links now will include an examination of whether Trump was obstructing justice by firing James Comey.

Fleitman manages to use the silly spaghetti metaphor to blame Democrats for why the Republican Congress, with a Republican president, cannot get a single thing done. He then gives us his two cents on the national debt, tax reform and NATO before touching on health care reform.

Now this is something that, as a physician, Fleitman should actually know something about. But his only addition to the argument is his complaint that his children and grandchildren have to pay for all these freeloading Medicaid recipients. This is diabolical timing, given the fact that Senate Republicans are debating a bill right now, in secret, that they plan to bring to a vote this week, with no time for examination by anyone. (Obamacare was debated for a year, with lots of Republican amendments included).

Some 24 million people stand to lose insurance they gained under the Affordable Care Act, and millions more stand to lose coverage for pre-existing conditions, well-child care, mental health, and women’s health including pregnancy, labor and delivery.

As my professional organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote in an urgent memo sent to all members on Monday, Medicaid covers 37 million children. Removing Medicaid as an entitlement would be devastating to those families.

And it would be disastrous for privately insured patients because teaching hospitals, including children’s hospitals where most subspecialists practice, are dependent upon Medicaid. Cut Medicaid and those millions will flock to emergency rooms for primary care — ERs which by law cannot turn them away. Hospitals like Cooley Dickinson will go broke trying to care for them.

This is something, that as a physician and a human being, you really should care about, Dr. Fleitman.

David Gottsegen, MD


The writer is a pediatrician at Holyoke Pediatric Associates, which has offices in Holyoke and South Hadley.