The draconian health care proposal
To the Editor:
Tomorrow (Monday) I will be traveling to the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, MI for a six month review of my treatment and progress. I have what they term a "one time sudden headache" since September 1st, 1994. It is chronic and constant. There are five nerves around my skull that constantly "fire". Their activity can be monitored electronically. Out of the last 30 days I had at least 10 where I was totally nonfunctional. I presently have been prescribed six medications for its treatment. MHNI has been treating my condition since 2002. There are no comparable facilities in Tennessee.
I expect to be discussing with them the possibility of my going through their infusion program which consists of a continuous intravenous drip for eight hours a day for up to three days. The medicine is changed periodically in the drip in the effort of finding a medication which will break my headache cycle.
Also there will [be] discussion of the possibility of performing a series of up to three nerve blocks. My neurologist in Knoxville, TN has advised that the neurosurgeon at MHNI perform the procedures because he has such significant and proven experience and expertise in this area. To my neurologist's best knowledge, no one in the State of Tennessee does two of the nerve block procedures.
I go on this trip with significant anxiety regarding how I am going to pay for my medical care. The infusion treatment is expensive and it appears that I might have to pay up to $765.00 out of pocket for a full three days. It is normally an outpatient treatment which means hotel room and meal costs. I would not be able to drive while in Ann Arbor so I would probably incur taxi costs. I do not know what my out of pocket would be for the nerve blocks if needed.
I am a Certified Public Accountant, a Baptist minister, and at one time sold medical insurance. My ministry was about half with youth, and half with the elderly and sick. I did nursing home and hospital ministry. Now I find myself dealing with a medical condition that is nothing short of horrific. Even while I am struggling through this e-mail I am experiencing substantial muscle contraction all above my ears and eyes. Sometimes it will move into my eye causing haziness and tunnel vision. My ears ring all the time. I struggle with concentration. All this combined gives me what is probably a very unique and informed viewpoint. I know what it is to suffer.
The changes proposed in the TennCare health care program are nothing short of being draconian. It appears that 100's of millions of dollars in federal supplementary funds are going to be forfeited should the Governor's proposal be enacted. These 100's of millions will quickly turn to billions. This being the case then the proposal is nothing short of being asinine. Forfeiting federal supplements and matching funds of this magnitude is nothing but fiscal irresponsibility.
I voted for Governor Bredesen thinking he had the knowledge and expertise to work with the TennCare program and substantially resolve problem issues. Now it is apparent he does not have such skills. He hasn't solved anything and should he get his proposal rammed through he will leave an inordinate portion of the medical needy stranded without help or at best with insufficient help.
It is my understanding that a bail out was negotiated by Louisiana for the amount of about $774,000,000. It appears that Alabama will probably be receiving nearly $1,000,000,000 bail out of their Medicaid program.
Governor Bredesen comes across as a person who is high minded and has little empathy for the suffering. I suspect it is likely because he has never truly suffered himself. He also comes across as a person who lacks the personality and people skills to negotiate subsistence such as Louisiana and Alabama have.
The Bible says, "You will know people by their fruits". This harsh and fiscally negligent revision is the fruits. There is also an old saying that "you reap what you sow, later than you sow, and more than you sow." There will be a severe short term effect on the general health of a large portion of the populace of this state. This will mushroom as people leave the work force as they have become disabled and enter Medicaid. There will be many people who could have continued work or at least remained home for care that will end up in the nursing homes to loose all they have and the state having to provide for their care anyway.
There will be thousands of people that will die prematurely.
There will be a lot of cost shifting in government to maintain a line item in the health care budget of Tennessee that in no way reflects the costs that were shifted to the local health care providers of the state and the local governments. There will be a substantial loss in cost restraints when dealing with the poor uninsured.
What Tennessee is headed for is a mess should this be the path that is ultimately decided to take.
Who do you think will not suffer? It is multi-millionaire Governor Bredesen and the $350 per hour attorneys the State of Tennessee is paying to ram his program through.
Earl Barnett, Speedwell, TN