Thursday, December 29, 2011

Government Managed Health Care

Again, politics are not the intended subject of this venue but this is a story and subject important enough to mention.  I only hope that I can adequately communicate the lessons to be learned...

My dear deceased friend, Mike Mays, has a tetraplegic son, Jason.  Jason has never been cared for by other than his immediate family, particularly his parents and sister.  Consequently, despite his 35+ years in this condition he is in genuinely good health with no tubes, staph infections, etc.  Prior to Mike's untimely passing Jason's medical costs were covered by the military benefits that Mike had pre and post retirement.  However, since Mike's death, Jason or rather his mother has had an unending battle with the bureaucrats to continue his benefits.  There have been more twists and turns than I could possibly recount even if I knew them all.

The latest is that Jason will lose, or has lost, his Medicaid/Medicare (you might better understand which is which here) benefits because he has no medical need.  Why no medical need?  Because he has no tubes, infections, need for catheters, etc.  Never mind that he can not walk, move, wash, eat, ANYTHING without his caregiver doing it for him.  Jason can not even speak (at least as you and I speak) to communicate his needs.  Of course should he lose those caregivers his situation would almost immediately change.  In any institution he would be immediately tubed up with a catheter (at the very least).

So, what's my point.  Well, it is simply this.  What the "system" would like to do to Jason is what they would do to any one of us in a similar situation.  Set us up to fail and die.  Remember when Sarah Palin said that the Obama health care plan would establish "death panels".  Apparently she was wrong but only because the death "panel" apparently consists of whichever individual happens to be handling your paperwork.  Further, this non-medical person is going to be making those decisions based on an imperfect understanding of both medical practice AND the patients' circumstances.  I'm sure you think you could appeal any of these bureaucratic decisions.  Think again.

Jason's mom has tried to use the appeal process.  Despite her use of highly skilled lawyers those appeals have been repeatedly denied.  Why?  Because, in part, they aren't allowed to know by which "rule" (not law but bureaucratically crafted regulation) they were judged in any particular instance.  Why not?  "Because we don't have to tell you."  Government arrogance.  Do you think that "they" won't do that to you, your parents, YOUR children?  Really?

In my view, Jason is the sort of person we as a society, via the organization of our government, might well help.  He can do nothing for himself.  Nothing.  But that isn't how it is.  What we do is give people who could work, should be working, a standard of living unmatched by the middle class in much of the rest of the world.  We mandate that insurance companies pay for pre-existing conditions, abortions, various elective surgeries, and so forth.  This while Jason is denied help.  Makes no sense to me.

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