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Thu Oct 25, 2012, 07:42 PM

Romney/Ryan Are Tearing a Hole in the Safety Net That Keeps Infants, Mothers and the Elderly Alive [View all]

If you believe the lies that Romney has told, he will make sure that everyone has health insurance for their pre-existing conditions without having to pay for it. He has assured us that the nation’s emergency rooms can keep us all alive and healthy----never talking about the cost. His surrogates promise that no woman, no matter how bad her health, will die while pregnant under their watch, even if she cannot get a medical necessity abortion. He tells us that too much is being spent to pay for health care for the poor, for seniors, for mothers and their children. These vulnerable groups can get by on a lot less---and they will have to, if Romney/Ryan get elected.

I. Mothers

The safety net for the nation’s poor mothers is Medicaid. Romney/Ryan want to change Medicaid into a block grant program. Meaning that if the governor and legislature of your state is in the pocket of the nursing home industry and nursing homes want to collect more money from Medicaid, you may find that prenatal care is now under-covered---or, not covered at all. This will be especially hard on young, unwed mothers living in states which choose not to spend Medicaid for birth control, too. The number of high risk pregnancies will rise, while access to obstetric care will drop.

Imagine that Terry, your 16 year old daughter is pregnant with her first child. Unable to afford on obstetrician, she stays at home, takes prenatal vitamins and keeps her fingers crossed. Your great grandmother delivered all her babies at home. What’s the worst that can happen? Since Terry cannot afford a doctor, she does not know that her blood pressure is rising. Her first clue that she has eclampsia is when she has a seizure. She bleeds into her brain and dies on the operating room table as they try to save the life of her premature baby. The infant’s Neonatal ICU stay will cost half a million dollars, but Medicaid will cover that, because hospitals have powerful lobbies, too. That’s half a million dollars that could have paid for prenatal care for several hundred young women like your daughter, Terry.

If Medicaid is turned into a block grant program, it will be very easy for state officials to ignore actual medical need and use the funds the way they already use highway funds---to reimburse their donors. And since Romney/Ryan plan to reduce the amount of money the federal government gives to states for Medicaid, the fight for those dollars will intensify over time, and those without the money to hire lobbyists---like young mothers---will be left out in the cold.

Mothers with preexisting medical conditions will be in an even worse bind. With Roe v. Wade overturned, there will be nothing to stop your state from outlawing abortion, even to save the life of the mother. If they want, they can pass a law making it illegal to go to another state to abort that “unborn citizen.” So, if your uninsured, married sister Kelly, who has been managing her own diabetes with over the counter insulin has a broken condom and gets pregnant, she will have few choices. Unable to afford high risk obstetric care, she will almost certainly run into severe complications during her pregnancy that could kill her and her unborn child. While she would love to have a second child, she knows that it is impossible for her in her present financial situation. So, she decides to have an abortion. Since abortion is illegal in her state, she gets what used to be called a back alley abortion. If she dies, her other child will be orphaned. If she survives but has complications and has to go to the hospital for treatment, she will face jail time for murder.

2. Children

Over the past decade, this country has made tremendous strides in providing health care for our most vulnerable citizens---children, who through no fault of their own, are uninsured. Republicans had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table when programs like SCHIP were created, but now it is hard to imagine a world in which any politician would say of a child “He does not deserve health care.”

Unfortunately, Romney/Ryan do not give people what they deserve. They do what is politically advantageous for them. And Romney/Ryan see an advantage in eliminating SCHIP, the most democratic health care program in the country, designed to give all children an equal start in life. Why? Presumably because they and their elite backers like having their own kids start off with the advantage of good health while other children suffer the lifelong effects of preventable childhood illness. Romney/Ryan want to eliminate food stamps, too. Why? Presumably because they and their elite backers like having their own kids start off life well fed while other children go hungry.

Imagine a world in which you cannot afford to see a doctor to get your eight year old son, Tommy a prescription for an asthma inhaler. Every two months or so, you have to take him to the emergency room for rescue treatment. Once or twice a year, he is admitted for up to a week. Each time, you are given a prescription for one inhaler and told to see a doctor. But the doctor demands cash up front that you do not have. Meanwhile, debt collectors are all over you trying to recoup the thousands of dollars that you owe the local hospital. And Tommy is going to fail third grade, because he has missed so much school due to all those asthma attacks---attacks that could have been prevented if there was some place you could take him for regular care. After ten years of this, one of two things can happen. Your son, Tommy can die on the way to the emergency room. Or he can survive to become an adult and outgrow his asthma---and suddenly, he finds that he has no skills, no education, and he is stuck in a low wage, dead end job for the rest of his life, which is a real shame, because he was a bright kid. Some employer—a Romney donor, no doubt, is going to be lucky to get a bright, hard-working young man like your Tommy to slave for him for minimum wage.

Terry’s daughter Emily, the baby who was born two months premature because her mother could not afford prenatal care has made it out of the Neonatal ICU. Emily’s grandparents take her home. Having learned their lesson watching their daughter die, they vow to do everything possible to keep their granddaughter healthy. However, with their states Medicaid program increasingly strapped for cash, it has created a form of Voucher-care for children. There are plenty of private insurers lining up to accept vouchers for healthy babies, but none of them want to cover a special needs child like Emily, with her heart, lung and eye disease. Emily’s grandparents ask the state for help. They are told that they make too much money. But, if they cancel their plans to adopt the baby and instead give her up for foster care, the state will cover Emily’s medical bills. No state is callous enough to let an orphan die from lack of health care.

3. Elderly

The nation’s seniors are going to be hit hard when Romney/Ryan tear a hole in the safety net, because with age comes sickness. Right now, if you can make it to 65 without dying of a treatable disease like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, you have a fighting chance. That means folks whose jobs have been outsourced to China and who no longer have insurance still have hope. Romney and Ryan are determined to crush that hope. They will do this in the sneakiest way possible, by underinsuring the nation’s elderly.

Young folks know all about being underinsured. Most elderly folks don’t. But they will learn. For William, it will mean that the private insurance plan which he purchases with his voucher has a “no preexisting conditions” clause. Shortly after turning 65, he will go to the hospital with chest pain. It will turn out to be a minor heart attack. Unfortunately, last year, he saw a doctor for something unrelated and mentioned that he occasionally has chest pain. When his private insurer discovers this, they will refuse to pay for his hospitalization. He will find himself owing tens of thousands of dollars to the hospital. Worse, he will have no way to pay for the medication which was prescribed. When the chest pain comes back, he will have a choice. Go back to the hospital and get stuck with another bill he cannot pay---or stay at home to tough it out. This is a choice that Americans under the age of 65 make every day. Under Romney/Ryan our seniors will have make those kinds of tough decisions, too.

Sarah, who just turned 65 and who has used her voucher to buy the cheapest insurance she could find, will face tough choices, too. Because she has high blood pressure, she is “high risk”, so she could only afford a plan that had a sky high deductible. She will have to pay $2000 out of her own pocket for health care, before her insurer will kick in anything. She notices a lump in her breast. There is a Women’s Health Fair, and she is able to get a free mammogram. The mammogram comes back normal, but the tech tells her that a lump still needs to be checked---cancer sometimes does not show up on a mammogram. Sarah calls around. It will cost several hundred dollars up front to see a surgeon and several thousand more just to get a biopsy. Unfortunately, she is living on a fixed income---her Social Security----and she cannot come up with the cash. So, she does what many Americans in their 30’s-50’s do---she crosses her fingers and hopes that the lump will go away. It doesn’t. It grows. It eats through the skin. By the time he family convinces her to see a doctor, her cancer has spread to her bones.

Brad, 72, suffered kidney failure shortly after he signed up for his “Voucher-care.” Since it was not a preexisting condition, they had to cover it. He went on dialysis. His insurance plan only covers a dialysis center forty-five miles away from his home, so his wife had to quit work to take him back and forth for his treatments which he gets three times a week. The deductibles and copayments for his medications, tests and doctor visits have used up their savings, and they had to mortgage their home to pay for his continued care. When they defaulted on the mortgage, they had to give up their house. Luckily, his grown son lives nearby, so they were able to move in with him. Brad hoped to get a transplant, but no matching donor could be found. So, he continues his dialysis. Except for his kidneys, he is in good shape. He enjoys playing with his grandchildren, and he loves his wife, who has given up so much to take care of him. When he imagined his golden years, he did not expect to be on dialysis, but life could be worse---

And then, Brad gets a call. He is about to use up the lifetime limit on his Voucher-care. His insurer will no longer pay for his dialysis. When he signed up for Voucher-care, he was told that Medicare would be there for him if he ever needed it. But Medicare has gone bankrupt, because too little money was going in and too much was being paid out for the handful of extremely old, frail and sick seniors who continued to rely upon it for their care while everyone else was steered towards private plans. Brad is out of time and out of options.

Brad dies when he can no longer afford his dialysis treatments. His wife, June is devastated. She suffers a stroke and can no longer talk, walk or feed herself. Doctors say that she will never get better. Reluctantly, her kids decide to put her in a nursing home. But, her Voucher-care does not cover nursing home care. Since she is now destitute after years of paying Brad’s medical bills, her family hopes that Medicaid can help. Medicaid in their state used to cover nursing homes pretty well. However, that was before the federal government slashed their contribution, and people got progressively older and sicker. June’s family discovers that there is now a waiting list for Medicaid nursing home beds. So, they take her home. She develops a bedsore, because the family does not really know how to take care of someone as sick as her. Adult protective services steps in and declares that she must be put in a nursing home. Since there are no Medicaid nursing home beds available, and since her insurance does not cover such care, her adult children will have to pay $75,000 a year out of their own pockets. The kids are devastated. They don’t have that kind of money. Surely, the state can’t force them to provide custodial care to an adult parent! They consult an attorney and discover that their state is one of many that requires adult children to pay the bills of their parents. As long as the elderly had Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to help them out, no one tried to enforce that law. But now, faced with the prospect of watching seniors die in the streets, the state has no other option. June’s kids have to cut back on nonessentials---including their health care premiums. And so the cycle of sickness and poverty continues….

http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3483

http://www.firstfocus.net/news/press_release/ryan-budget-cuts-chip-and-medicaid-risks-the-health-of-america’s-children

http://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/elections-politics/womens-health-budget-1154.htm

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Reply Romney/Ryan Are Tearing a Hole in the Safety Net That Keeps Infants, Mothers and the Elderly Alive [View all]
McCamy Taylor Oct 2012 OP
msongs Oct 2012 #1
meow2u3 Oct 2012 #2
santamargarita Oct 2012 #3
Digit Oct 2012 #4