Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fill in the blank: "_________ should not be a debt sentence"

Sign seen at the Medicaid Expansion rally held Thursday in Cheyenne:

"Cancer should not be a debt sentence."

You could customize that in a number of ways:

"Heart disease should not be a debt sentence."

"Diabetes should not be a debt sentence."

And so on. Plug in the malady that may be afflicting your family. I have heart disease and my wife is a diabetic. We have insurance. Still, my health care costs topped $200,000 in 2013. I ended up paying several thousand dollars out of my own pocket. Heart disease may have been a debt sentence, or possibly even a death sentence if I wasn't able to afford a stent and an ICD and a two trips to the hospital and rehab and many medications, some of them pricey.

Some of the people testifying at Thursday's rally face debt sentences for hospital bills they can't afford. Fate decrees that the insured and the uninsured alike keel over from heart attacks, wreck their cars, contract horrible infections, slip on the ice and break a leg, get a Big C diagnosis, etc.

We got news on Friday that two Medicaid expansion bills made it out of the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Interim Committee for consideration during the legislative session.
"I think it is the responsibility of this committee bring it forward for a full discussion," said committee chairwoman Rep. Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell. "I would hate to think that 12 people would decide for the whole state to not do any kind of Medicaid expansion at all." 
Sometimes it seems that there is just one person one person on that committee who wants to deny health coverage to everyone in the state. This from Saturday's Wyoming Tribune-Eagle:
Co-chairman Sen. Charles Scott, urged the committee Friday to table the pending Medicaid expansion bills. He said the federal government's proposal to Medicaid brings out the worst in the American health-care system.

"It encourages excessive utilization of health-care services to the extent that they're not good for people," Scott said.
Wonder what Scott considers "excessive utilization?" Preventive care? Taking your kids to the doctor when they're sick? Riding in the ambulance to the emergency room when you could walk there on the two good legs the Lord gave you?

Sounds to me as if Sen. Scott is arguing for government oversight of what is "excessive utilization" and what isn't "excessive utilization." He wants to be the sole arbiter who decides if 17,000 uninsured Wyomingites get health insurance coverage under Medicaid expansion, a plan that will save the state $50 million, according to Wyoming Health Department Director Tom Forslund.

What is good for people and what is not -- and who decides?

Next thing you know, Sen. Scott will be advocating for death panels.

Maybe he already is.

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