The Life of Julius: federal cradle-to-grave meddling in health care (part 1)

As Americans eagerly await the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care plan, we invite you to follow us as we embark on a journey called “The Life of Julius.”

This story will illustrate how the federal government is using Utah as a tool – via the federal health care takeover – to cap off a system of cradle-to-grave influence and control over the personal health decisions of Utahns.

The Life of Julius

Julius, a Utah native, first encounters the hand of government shortly after birth. At one month old, a government nurse visits his home to teach his mother the benefits of breastfeeding and giving Julius ample amounts of fruits and vegetables as he grows. His mother politely thanks the nurse but informs her that her own mother and several friends had already been stressing the importance of those things for years.

Six months later, a social worker comes to teach Julius’s mother about the importance of immunization and keeping locks on storage areas for medicine and cleaning supplies. His mother says the teacher of a life skills course at her local church taught her the same lessons just a week earlier (little does she know the people running the course are considering canceling it due to low attendance and the expanded availability of social worker services to do the same thing). 

Julius and his family receive these services – already widely available through private connections like family and community groups – because of money offered through the federal health law that extends the state’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program to target “at-risk” families. His family is eligible to receive these services for Julius from “P-5,” or pregnancy to age 5.

As Julius grows older, his mother wants their family to remain self-reliant as her parents wisely taught her to do, but she finds health-related government programs to be so ubiquitous it’s difficult to avoid them and turn down “free” or low-cost support.

For example, though Julius’s mother makes enough money to pay for a basic private health insurance plan, she chooses instead to enroll in CHIP and Medicaid, federally funded health care programs. She also receives a monthly check from WIC, which allows her to use tax dollars to buy items like baby food, cheese and peanut butter.

The federal health overhaul touches the life of Julius again as he attends Head Start (preschool) at four years of age. His class does jump rope during breaks before eating carrot sticks and celery because the federal law funds TOP Star, a program that seeks to influence what children eat and how much exercise they get in private and public preschools and child care facilities. Julius enjoys the exercise because he’s very active at home, but he doesn’t like celery.

By age 5, government is influencing the personal health choices of Julius and his family in many ways they recognize and some they don’t. They are already dependent on government for many of their basic health needs, which means they rely less on themselves, extended family and the private network of resources available to them. And over time many private programs will shut down, limiting their options for access to health information.

As Julius continues to grow, this dependence only deepens and the federal government influences more and more aspects of his health and personal life.

To be continued…

Go to part 2
Go to part 3
Go to part 4