Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dr. Wonderful and Sciotocized Medicine

 "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the most wonderful of all?"

When you set back and look at all the wonderful people we have that do not step up, and you think they should step up, you have to look in the mirror. So, I looked in the mirror."
                                                              Dr. Terry Johnson

Since its founding, the Scioto County Counseling Center (SCCC) has branched out into a subsidiary corporation, the Compass Community Health Care Center (CCHCC), one of whose “prime missions,” to quote the Community Common newspaper (2 Feb. 2015), “is to improve the health and well being not just of our patients, but of the entire regional population.” Though the “clients” (addicts,) of the SCCC remain an important segment economically of “the entire regional population,” they are not a group the CCHCC wants to be identified with. Since the government is directly and indirectly paying for them, addicts are still profitable but because the addiction treatment industry has become highly controversial, the CCHCC appears to be distancing itself from them and from its corporate parent, the SCCC, which had capitalized on the War on Drugs.

Having recently been granted Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) "Look-Alike" status by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the CCHCC is now in a position to expand even more than it has in the last couple of years. Ed Hughes, whose $140,000 salary is paid by CCHCC, told the Community Common, “With same-day/next-day appointments, on-site pharmacy, extended hours and free transportation for our patients, Compass Community Health Care Center is dedicated to coordinated and comprehensive care.” Having achieved “Look-Alike” status, the health care CCHCC provides will be even more comprehensive, more expensive, and more profitable. Soine Hash, the program director told the Portsmouth Daily Times that one of the advantages of the Look-Alike status is that it will give CCHCC "access to enhanced reimbursement for services provided." What does the euphemism "enhanced reimbursement" mean if not increased profits?

Terry Johnson's official title is Medical Director of  CCHCC, but I think that he's really the CEO. What he is proposing for the people of Scioto County is pretty close to socialized medicine. But since CCHCC is a private corporation, it avoids the stigma of socialism, but not by much, because the government is paying the cost of the health care the CCHCC provides to the "entire regional population."  An appropriate name for the kind of comprehensive health care that Terry Johnson aims to provide the people of south-central Ohio could be called Sciotocized Medicine. Johnson and most of his associates are conservative Republicans, but conservative Republicans in Scioto County, with the assistance of Democrat Speaker of the House Vern Riffe, have led the way in milking local, state, and federal government, first in the War on Poverty and then in the War on Drugs and now in the War on Unhealthiness, Scioto being the unhealthiest county in Ohio.  That it is a war is fairly clear, or why else would Johnson  be photographed so often in his Ohio reserve officer’s uniform with all those medals surrounded by all those flags?

When did Johnson join the War on Unhealthiness? In a statement he made back in 2009 to the Community Common, explaining why he was running for public office, he said, “When you set back and look at all the wonderful people we have that do not step up, and you think they should step up, you have to look in the mirror. So, I looked in the mirror." He looked in the mirror, saw a wonderful doctor, himself,  and threw his stethoscope  in the ring. But his  deep involvement with and virtual takeover and expansion of Hughes’ shady operation suggest he is the kind of unprincipled politician we are all too familiar with. In being an officer in Hughes' shady corporation while also being a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, Johnson may be involved in a conflict of interest.

In the War Against Poverty, it was conservative local Republicans of the Southern Ohio  Growth Partnership (SOGP)  who got Portsmouth reclassified as part of an impoverished rural area, which meant the highly industrialized city was qualified to receive financial assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DOA). The Scioto County Welcome Center, that front for gambling, where the SOGP had its offices, was paid for by the DOA, with Rob “Porkman” Portman personally delivering the government check. The money that the now discredited and disbanded SOGP  doled out to deserving Republican businessmen came from the DOA. Under Terry Johnson’s Sciotocized Medicine, it will be other departments and programs of the federal government that will be supplying the money, directly and indirectly. Just how much money, if any, Johnson is being paid as Medical Director of CCHCC is not known. The story of how a quiet career-track county coroner became the wheeling-and-dealing life of the Republican Party in southern Ohio has yet to be told, but FQHCs are part of that story. In a footnote on an official website ( I found the following explanation of the crucial difference between true FQHCs and FQHC Look-Alikes:
"Federally-funded Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) meet federal health center grant requirements and are required to report administrative, clinical and other information to the federal Bureau of Primary Health Care, HRSA. Other health centers known as 'FQHC LookAlikes' are not included here because they do not receive federal health center grants and do not report to the Bureau of Primary Health Care."

In  being a Look-Alike organization, rather than the real thing, the CCHCC does not have to report to the House Rehabilitation and Services Administration.  Does it have to report to anybody? What about the Internal Revenue Service? Is the IRS keeping track financially of CCHCC or is CCHCC hiding behind the skirts of the SCCC, which does have to report to the IRS?  As billions of American dollars and thousands of lives have been tragically lost in the war in  Iraq, what guarantee do we have that Sciotocized Medicine and the War on Unhealthiness  will not be a costly mistake as well?