The GOP's devastating plans for Medicare/Medicaid, under the tutelage of House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Whip Eric Cantor and Rep. Paul Ryan--- has just become personal. As I sit here writing this piece--my emotions fluctuate wildly between grief--and blind rage; rage at a cold blooded capitalistic system which puts a crass price-tag on human life.
As I review a system of health insurance for profit vs. a single payer system such as 'Medicare for ALL;' I face the fact that my last remaining immediate family member--namely my brother-- is dying due to the fact that healthcare was denied--and then mercilessly delayed. The delay will cost him his life. You see, my younger brother has AIDS.
He was diagnosed about 2 months ago, after arguing with several acute care clinics--all of them refusing to give any diagnosis. He didn't have health insurance, being marginally employed--his employer did not provide this 'benefit.' Only able to access a minor 'aflac' type plan which pays for a few screening tests, but no meds, no hospitalization--he was subjected to the tender 'mercies' of the REAL 'death panels'--the healthcare FOR PROFIT-- industry. By the time the last acute care facility rendered 'the diagnosis'--he already resembled Rock Hudson during his last days, emaciated, barely able to stand. My brother is 49 years old.
The reality of AIDS among uninsured...not the face of celebrity patients.....
Unlike celebrity patients such as Magic Johnson--my brother has to beg for Medicaid in order to access the 'cocktail' drugs which can prolong his life and ease his suffering. Even though he is confined to a hospital bed, (he's has fallen several times)--the very Medicaid system Rep. Ryan and House Speaker Boehner want to dismantle---will look for any excuse to deny his claim. All it takes is a single doctor under orders (either from the insurance company OR from the state), to 'withhold' a differential diagnosis--and he will be doomed to an immediate and painful death.
AIDS and Cancer Patients are routinely denied Medicaid in several states.....
Contrary to the rosy picture of overly generous benefits painted by Tea Party politicos and officials such as Sen. Rand Paul---Medicaid routinely denies or delays granting benefits to cancer and AIDS patients--though the cancer patients are more readily 'acceptable' than those with AIDS. The reason 'why' is blatantly ugly in its political ramifications--the ongoing bigotry against AIDS patients by religious hypocrites on the far right. Since AIDS was first discussed in the mainstream media--it was viewed as a disease contracted by gay men or IV-drug abusers. Patients with this diagnosis were treated by most conservative religious communities like pariahs--deserving of this hideous fate. This started to change when sports icon, Magic Johnson--publicly announced his diagnosis.
What many church going bigots fail to understand is the simple medical fact that untreated or undertreated AIDS patients frequently go into ACTIVE TUBERCULOSIS as they near their imminent deaths. Patients refused healthcare and nursing assistance become active carriers of TB, as a 'co-infection', out in the public realm. Refusing healthcare to these individuals not only violates any moral standard--but is stupidly risking a possible outbreak of TB.
The six components of the STOP TB Strategy...
The risk of co-infection can be so high within untreated AIDS patient populations that the World Health Organization has published a 'Stop TB Strategy.' (Source: http://www.who.int/tb/strategy/en/) The six outlined steps to this strategy include the following steps.
1.) Pursue high-quality DOTS expansion and enhancement; (DOTS being the acronym for treating TB through via DIRECTLY OBSERVED TREATMENT, SHORT-COURSE) which includeds identification, treatment featuring a
..."SUSTAINED POLITICAL COMMITMENT to increase human and financial resources and amke TB control a nationwide activity as part of a NATIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM;
...ACCESS TO QUALITY-ASSURED TB SPUTUM MICROSCOPY for case detection among people with, or found through screening to have symptoms of TB (most importantly prolonged cough). Special attention is NECESSARY FOR CASE DETECTION AMONG HIV-INFECTED PEOPLE AND OTHER HIGH-RISK GROUPS, e.g. people in institutions;
...STANDARDIZED SHORT-COURSE CHEMOTHERAPY to all cases of TB under proper case-management conditions, including the direct observation of treatment. Proper case-management conditions imply technically sound and socially supportive treatment services;
...UNINTERRUPTED SUPPLY OF HIGH QUALITY DRUGS with reliable drug procurement and distribution systems;
...RECORDING AND REPORTING SYSTEM ENABLING OUTCOME ASSESSMENT of each and every patient and assessment of the overall programme performance; " (Source: http://www.wpro.who.int/sites/stb/dots_definition.htm)