MONTVILLE, NJ - At their regular meeting on Thursday, April 27, the Montville Area Tea Party (MATP) hosted a presentation called “Obamacare: Repeal, Replace, Fix, Keep, Ryancare or Something Else?”

MATP said, “Now is not the time to sit back and let Congress act without hearing from an informed public.” 

The guest speaker was Dr. Alieta Eck, founder of the Zarephath Health Center in Somerset, NJ, a non-government free clinic for the poor, uninsured and under insured.

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Eck was president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons in 2012, Republican nominee for a seat in the United States House of Representatives for New Jersey’s 12th congressional district and board member of Christian Care Medi-Share. Eck has been involved in health care reform since the 1980s and in the Zarephath Health Center since 2003.

One of the main points Eck made was that when Obamacare was written and all of its recent versions were put together, no one ever asked practicing physicians to be on the committee. The writers paid heavy attention to the insurance companies and hospitals, and Eck believes this was and is a “big mistake.” She said, “It is time to start listening to the health care experts.”Obamacare is “a royal mess.”

She stated that the politicians make it seem like they are interested in the well- being and health of the people, but she doesn’t believe this. She believes it is all about politics, insurance companies, hospitals and money.

Eck believes as it is right now, politicians, insurance corporations and hospitals have all the power. The system is corrupt and overcharges its patients. The system enriches the third party at the expense of the patients, taxpayers, and the economy. Eck believes that the patient, not the government, should have control over their money and their medical decisions.

She also stated that so many people are afraid of losing Medicaid, but she stated, “In New Jersey, just try to find a doctor who accepts it.” Doctors are not accepting Medicaid patients because of the red-tape involved and the low reimbursement. Accepting it would eventually put doctors out of business. 

She said in New Jersey, the state government is spending $13 billion on Medicaid, and patients can’t find a doctor. So really, what good does it do?

Although one-fourth of New Jersey’s population is on Medicaid, if Medicaid disappears, Eck believes it won’t be much of a loss, especially since there are better ways to provide health care for the poor and under-insured. 

She also explained that the majority of people on Medicaid who can’t find a doctor go to the emergency room for non-emergencies because they know that they will not be turned away. The hospitals, to make up the loss, charge an exorbitant amount of money for tests, medicines, and procedures that Eck can provide for her patients at her center for much, much less.And because emergency hospital staff has to treat non-emergencies, the patients, who really need emergency care, are not promptly receiving it.

According to the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget summary, “The increase in insurance under Obamacare is not sustainable for New Jersey’s budget, and it is not sustainable for state, school district and local government employees whose premium sharing will increase as well.”

The following is a brief explanation from their website on how Zarephath Health Center works, and Eck believes this is a much better model of handling health care.

  • It serves as a resource for the local churches to provide health care, medications, emotional and spiritual support for families that are in difficult circumstances.
  • It utilizes volunteer physicians, nurses, counselors, and financial advisors to provide a comprehensive package of services.
  • It helps people access the generous programs pharmaceutical companies have established for those who meet certain income requirements.
  • It works with hospitals to access lower fees for those with limited resources.
  • They do not charge for services but encourage a free-will offering by those who are helped. They rely heavily on the kindness of those who can give tax-deductible donations.

Another factor in the rising cost of health care is malpractice insurance. Some physicians have to pay over $100,000 a year. Eck would like to see a plan where private doctors can volunteer at least four hours a week at a free clinic and have the federal government cover the malpractice insurance under the Federal Tort Claims Act. She said that when people are suing the federal government, they will think twice and probably back down. 

New Jersey legislature is trying to pass the New Jersey Senate Bill 239, which will be called the "Volunteer Medical Professional Health Care Act." This is an act concerning immunity for civil liability for certain volunteer medical professionals and supplementing Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes. The bill is sponsored by Senator Robert W. Singer, from District 30, Monmouth and Ocean Counties, and Senator Brain P. Stack, from District 33, Hudson County. The bill is also co-sponsored by Senators Oroho, Beck, Allen, A. R. Bucco, Doherty and Pennacchio.

Eck believes in giving power back to the patient and the state, getting rid of the mandate, and getting rid of forcing people to buy into plans they do not need. For example, not everyone needs maternity care.

According to her website, Medicaid comprises a full third of the budget of New Jersey, and is replete with wasteful spending by government clinics where each patient visit costs taxpayers around $200. In her center, she has developed an innovative plan to cut costs, improve care and fix the malpractice crisis which benefits the poor, the physicians, and the taxpayers.

Some people believe that if Obamacare self-destructs, the free market will offer far more affordable and effective ways to meet medical needs.

Ryancare offered some changes, but it did not repeal Obamacare. It kept in aspects that were popular like offering insurance to people with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. Ryancare was defeated.

Last week Representative Tom MacArthur, a Republican from the 3rd district, gained the libertarian Freedom Caucus’ support for his health care plan, now called MacArthurcare. The plan appeals to the conservatives, and now MacArthur is seeking the support of the moderates. The plan is tentatively up for a vote. 

Again, under the plan, many people would lose coverage, but the premise is that it will be replaced with something better for everyone.

There is a push to get rid of the highly unpopular individual mandate that is part of Obamacare. Ryancare effectively got rid of the individual mandate by reducing the penalty to zero. To provide an inducement to maintain coverage, those who let insurance lapse would have to pay a premium penalty of 30 percent for one year.

MacArthur says that one reason the premiums are so high is that the people who have the worst health issues are put together with everyone else. His plan requires that such people be put into a risk pool that would be subsidized by the government. The exchanges would not have to subsidize the highest costs. Therefore, insurance rates would go down.

The debate is still out there. Only time will tell. 

Carole Karsen, a Montville Township resident and former Montville Township teacher, said about the presentation: “Dr. Eck is a role model for physicians. She is compassionate and involved in helping people maintain good health and a dignity of life that everyone deserves. I enjoyed the presentation. The Tea Party has a big role to play in maintaining ideals that our citizens deserve.”

For more information, please go to AAPSonline.org and NJAAPS.org.