Thursday, December 20, 2007

PATIENTS! REVOLT!!! Remember Nataline!

Young Nataline Sarkisyan, 17, "survived two bouts of cancer, and against all odds has been stable even with so many of her organs not working, only to be told that she cannot get the only treatment that will save her life because some administrator in some office thinks it is too expensive," commented Hilda Sarkisyan, Nataline's mother.

What is it when you have the means to save someone's life, but you deny that person the help? Are you a murderer? And given that you do it for profit, what does that make you? An assassin?

CIGNA, acting like every other private health insurance company in America, told Nataline Sarkisyan and her family that they would not approve a liver transplant for her even though it is what is needed to save her life. Even though four of her UCLA physicians said that Nataline “currently meets criteria to be listed as Status 1A” for a transplant. Even though a liver transplant in her case would not be experimental or investigational, but rather life saving. Even though it is the humane thing to do. Even though it is the right thing to do. Even though CIGNA has the funds to cover such services for their enrollees. CIGNA, acting like every other private health insurance company in America, denied Nataline her transplant and her chance to live to become an adult.

What do you call someone who does that?

And what can you do about it?

Well, those that know and love Nataline in her family and community as well as those that had never met her started advocating for her; started protesting for her; started calling and complaining and demonstrating for her.

We started a REVOLT and made CIGNA do the right thing.

CIGNA announced today, December 20th, that they will approve a liver transplant for Nataline. One week too late for the liver that was offered her on the 14th. And as it now sadly turns out too late to save her life.

This evening, Nataline took a turn for the worse and passed away.

As I asked before, what do you call people who have the ability to prevent someone from dying and yet they don't do it?

I call it immoral and criminal.

Now what must we do?

Keep up the action. Keep uniting with more and more Americans who want Health Care Justice. NO more denials. NO more overriding the judgment of medical specialists.

We want to be able to get the care we need when we need it. I was about to say "without an Act of Congress" to be rhetorical, but in actual fact that is exactly what we need. The Act of Congress that would pass HR 676 the Improved and Expanded Medicare for All bill.

PATIENTS (that's all of us) ARISE and REVOLT! No more heart-broken families! Remember Nataline!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

We are all just one illness away from poverty

The Wall Street Journal records the story of a successful, upper middle class man with health insurance who miraculously fought off a deadly infection only to find that his subsequent hospital bills AFTER insurance pay-outs were devastating.

A study by the Commonwealth Fund from 2005 revealed that 26% of Americans WITH health insurance had trouble paying medical bills. 39% of those Americans had to use up all their savings to cover their medical costs. 28% covered the costs with credit cards, some of those cards with incredibly high interest rates which provided the credit card banks with huge profits while making it almost impossible for the individuals to ever be able to get out of debt. 26% of those Americans who had health insurance became unable to pay for basic necessities (perhaps throwing them on to our welfare roles.) And 11% took out a second mortgage or a loan to be able to pay all the bills.

Had these people lived in Great Britain or Canada or France or Germany or Australia or Japan or ANYWHERE with Universal Health Care, they would not have had to face financial ruin after facing horrible illness and death.

And these are the Americans with health insurance. There are also the 46+ million Americans who have no insurance and scarce access to medical care. 18,000 Americans die yearly simply because they couldn't get care. That approaches the immorality of a holocaust.

If we truly do value life and if, as stated in our Declaration of Independence, life is an unalienable right, then we must change how we deal with health care. We must make it accessible to all.

We must adopt a single-payer, universal system of health care.