Friday, September 11, 2009

Health Care in America: A System More Terminal Than Its Patients

America is on the verge of a major crisis! And, I wonder, does anyone care?

While people continue to argue over the merits of health care; some prone to debate the issue out of ignorance, while others out of a fear generated by the media and fabricated. People are dying! And it’s not just the uninsured!

Most insurance policies carry a deductible, or co-pay, even Medicare, and if you don’t have that deductible or co-pay, in advance, the hospital, “MAY” let you die! This is not a scare it is a wake up call, and we should listen.

Two recent reports out of Las Vegas, both state that they were refused treatment or procedures that were life saving, because they did not have the co-pay at the time they were to be admitted. One went to Oklahoma for treatment the second has no money, and only the insurance policy, for which the hospital has refused to provide the procedure, why, because there is 20 percent deductible that the hospital is requiring payment in advance.

Nevada where budget cuts in the state’s Medicaid program have forced a major shift in where Nevada’s poor and even middle class can seek health care has created a dynamic problem, sometimes for the very survival of the sick.

Cancer patients who had received outpatient treatment at University Medical Center, for instance, are being turned away. The hospital says it can no longer afford to offer cancer treatment. And some treatments cost as much as $10,000 dollars each. This raises yet another issue, why do these treatments cost so much?

UMC, citing reductions in Medicaid payments, believe low-income children with bone and spine problems, seeking treatment, will need to leave Las Vegas altogether, as pediatric orthopedists are no longer accepting payment from Medicaid due to cutbacks in their reimbursements. Recent figures demonstrate that in fact Las Vegas does have a negative population trend.

Part of the problem, if not all of it, lies at the doorstep of Washington.

No one should ever be denied medical care, yet while people are dying, and we are in the midst of two foreign wars, they are!

UMC has dropped treatments and programs because Medicaid payments don’t cover the hospital’s costs and the hospital can’t afford to go in the hole.

Indeed, the Nevada State Medical Association said other pediatric specialists have also stopped taking Medicaid patients because the government reimbursements don’t cover the cost of delivering the care.

The issue squarely defined is; what direction are we allowing this country to take? Morally, do we have an obligation to defend the weak, and provide for those incapable to taking care of them selves? Are we going to abandon the frail, the sick and the helpless, or are we going to take a stand against those who place their pockets above human dignity?

The answer begins in Washington where the reality of the problem has become a cry in the wilderness. Ignored because it is not fashionable, and wars of choice seem to have their attention and the purse strings of our nation.