It’s a SNAP to Care! by Pat Conrad MD

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“These and other resolutions students adopted will now move through the AAFP’s policymaking channels for review, referral and, when appropriate, further action by AAFP leaders and the AAFP Congress of Delegates.” Just as music is used in film to prepare the audience for terror or hilarity, so the preceding sentence promises ineffectual, expensive stupidity.

In this case, the National Congress of Student Members [of] the 2016 AAFP National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students devoted themselves to patient welfare, taxpayer funded of course. The student members passed a resolution asking “the AAFP to advocate for maintaining current funding levels for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and encouraging increased funding for the program in the future.” In plain talk, the students don’t want any cuts to food stamps. On the one hand, I’m disgusted that these AAFP wannabes want this ridiculous organization to lobby for more federal welfare dollars. On the other, it’s funny seeing how unfamiliar these would-be FP’s are with the AAFP’s long and serious record of accomplishing absolutely nothing.

I know the students are young, and idealistic, and want so earnestly to matter. I also know that the SNAP program costs over $83 billion, and that the rolls have swelled to over 40 million recipients. More resources have not resulted in any long-term improvement to anything whatsoever. While the ranks of the food stampers have thinned slightly in the past two years, they have more than doubled this century.

Resolution co-author Paige Ely worked at a food bank, and said: ” In addition, between 2013 and 2014, the amount of funding cut in SNAP is equal to the amount all of the food banks in the United States need for three years of food,” she said. “SNAP provides much more food than food banks are able to on their own.” Sure, but what if money wasn’t taken out of local hands to recycle through the federal bureaucracy? Wouldn’t feeding people be better done at a local level? Alas, I wasn’t quick enough for Kandis Samuels-Leutzinger, a co-author of the original resolution. She thinks “funding SNAP through block grants is troubling because each state is able to allocate the lump sum amount received to different programs as they see fit.” Well we can’t have that, can we?

“SNAP is supposed to be used for food, and not all states specifically use it for food; it gets used for other things, which doesn’t necessarily help our patients and their nutritional needs, and this affects their health.” These advocates have no care as for who has to pay the bill, and herein lies the deadly problem.

Too many, far too many in medicine are insufferable do-gooders who have no hesitation in doing good with other peoples’ money, time, talents, resources, or hard work. If a med student thinks it is the proper business of medicine to lobby the federal government for welfare support, then he makes himself pliable for any further such suggestion. This isn’t a discussion about the role of government; this is a demonstration of how far medicine has fallen from any sort of principled or independent reasoning. Medicine now is not merely just another special interest, grubbing for tax dollars and leverage over competing industries. Groups like the AMA, AAFP, et al parrot the messages fed them by the central bureaucracy and a supportive media. Medical school faculties join them in selecting and encouraging students to mouth popularly acceptable positions and solutions with no thought to their larger social and economic effects. These students are already temperamentally conditioned to accept whatever new core measures/EHR/ICD-15/MACRA/SCHIP/meaningful use/MOC garbage is already being developed. Nothing pleases the industrial-compassion complex more than a willing tool with a medical degree.

“So to see this budget decreasing is alarming to me and many of our future patients,” Ely testified in a July 29 reference committee hearing. “Maintaining the funding is necessary and then, hopefully, being able to increase the funding will be enough to provide the nutrition that they need.” Sure Ms. Ely, I’m not against all semblance of public health or social responsibility, but where do you draw the line? DO you draw a line? What if their roof leaks, or their Internet goes out, or their car breaks down? Do you want to take your neighbor’s money to fix that too? Or what if they have morbid obesity and a jacked up HgBa1c, and you suffer financial penalties because you were deemed to give “poor quality” care, and then you don’t have the money to pay for the software update on your expensive, federally mandated EHR?

Ms. Ely, I’d rather you concentrate on your studies, pass your boards, mind your own damn business, and get back to me in about a decade.

88410cookie-checkIt’s a SNAP to Care! by Pat Conrad MD