HEALTH RULES; WE WIN THIS TIME

So it is difficult to stay in the Middle Class these days, although through Paul Fussell‘s definition, I am an “X”.  Love that.   Read his book, “Class”.  Sometimes it seems like the 99% are trying to kill us off so we won’t mate and create more useless “unconnected persons”.  This American family is arguing, arguing, and it feels like we are at the wrong age at the wrong time.

Having recently won a battle over the healthcare of a disabled child, we are definitely on an upswing.  Spending retirement money on his anger episodes, including violence to us, seemed unfair.  Or, we almost had to.  Karma swept in and we had applied for  TEFRA Medicaid just within the correct time period (we had no idea) where the government took care of $12,000 of emergency room bills for a violent child (two visits) retroactively.  And we recently got a pair of glasses for him at no charge (only a few frame choices were available).  But that is ok.  It is absolutely amazing to have this help.

I assume all know about the deep, textural, heavily layered health care argument.  It is my belief that if we were a single-payer country, and all could actually HAVE healthcare, it would be good for all of us.  Problems could be headed off at the pass, expenses would be less for all.  People would be healthy and could work.

The unbelievable realization came to me last night at a fundraiser, that a friend who recently died of colon cancer had been a Christian Scientist, the ultimate opposite of head-it-off-at-the-pass healthcare.  This fact displays one of the varied objections to universal healthcare.  It seems we also disagree as to what type of care is appropriate for those problems.

In recent times in this country, there were health problems that were deemed by (some evil genius) to be “real” problems needing coverage, and those that were not; as in eyes, ears, teeth.  And mental health.  Sure some policies are getting better in these respects, but at the other end of the scale, more and more people do not have insurance at all, or have simple bare bones coverage, where there is no provision for these johnny-come-lately “real” health problems.

I have never had that kind of coverage.  Bought my last pair of contact lenses after an eye check in late 2010.  Almost three years ago.  Lost one two nights ago, and we looked for it in the evening, and then the next morning.  Tried to get my prescription from the provider, and was told it was illegal to give it to me.  It was older than a year.  I was a hostage.  Who does this benefit?  Follow the money.  In my sixth decade, my eyes are not changing.  I could see these rules for a child, or even when we get to be forty-something and the almost automatic far-sightedness kicks in.  But now, for me, prepare to dig down and spend 400 dollars for an appointment and new hard contacts.  Not fair.

We won again.  The next morning, after sleeping all night with that damn lens clinging to me somewhere, I went to our bathroom to get a towel and then use the outdoor shower.  Came in, returned the towel to its antler, looked down on the white tile floor and saw my blue orb.

I WON!  Now we can spend that 400 bucks on food or something.

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I WAS BORN DEAD

This is what my step son said to his father the other day.  Glenn took this comment as positive, thinking that Garrett’s recent diagnosis of MR (mental retardation) might be inaccurate.  Garrett is aware that he is not normal, said he, and that means his IQ cannot be below 70.

“My brain doesn’t work”, was Garrett’s follow up statement.

I don’t know what to think.  Parallel to this discussion, we have been awarded help for Garrett, help that will assure that we can retain our middle class lifestyle.  That the more than $12,000 we owe for two visits to the emergency room will be paid by the state (in this state, there are no places of respite when a six foot, 200 pound teenager gets violent). That a shot given him during that time costing $2000 dollars will not be our responsibility.  That the money we have been hemorrhaging for counselors, therapists, tests of this kind and another will be replaced.  Basically we do not have to use our retirement money any more for Garrett.

The “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act“, or TEFRA Medicaid,  of 1982 is what is helping us.  It is also called “Katie Beckett” named for a child whose medical needs at the cost of $12,000 a month in a hospital could be met at home by her parents for much less, if professional medical costs would be paid as an out patient. It would be cheaper for the government and she would be living at home.  The incomes of the parents were middle class ones, and too high for Katie to receive Medicaid, therefore the dilemma.   Rules were forcing Katie to stay in the hospital to receive help when it would be better for her to be at home with her parents.  And cheaper, if the government paid just for the medical costs. Katie died in 2012 at the age of 34.  She lived three times longer than she was expected to, and the fight her parents waged changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Reading about this, it is amazing to remember the Republicans of 1982.  Ronald Reagan forced through this tax increase, or maybe re designation of tax money, along with the help of Bob Dole.  Ted Kennedy’s hands were all over it. This certainly does not feel like today.

I feel guilty.  We are the 47%, thanks for reminding us, Mitt Romney.  I hate to think what would happen to us if someone like Mitt Romney were in the head office.  Or not?  Remember what Massachusetts did with respect to health care a long time ago, when he was governor?  He moved the state towards “single payer”, which would be cheaper for all of us.  Which Mitt Romney to believe?  This is the scary part about American politics now.  Everybody is mugging for the camera.

So now we have a plastic card to use for Garrett that will give him better healthcare than we are able to purchase for our family.  It is a huge relief.

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THE 47 PERCENT, AND CONTINUING TO BE PRODUCTIVE

It is odd going through some of the life changes that used to be only abstractions.  There are different ways of looking at the same thing.  Am I at 61 the same type of person as my grandmother, born in 1904,  at 61?  I don’t think so.

Does the new Social Security payment being conveniently deposited into my checking account means that I am on the dole, redundant, using money plus interest contributed for a working lifetime,  or what?   When is the government giving me money  not earned?  Money has always been an illusive thing for me;  having enough not to have to think about it, abstract.  Having money in a few months that is not connected to current work activity deposited into my checking account?  Unbelievable.  It seems like a happy base.  To be sure I can go on making the money from art that is normal for me, and not go beyond my earnings limit.  Work has not changed.

Mr. Obama described our social safety net in his inaugural speech as something that makes us stronger as a whole, minimizes the terrible luck of the draw that some of us experience, so we can all go on being productive.  “The commitments we make to each other–through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security–these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

Through this statement and the upcoming arrival of my social security,  the path to more creative work is in my radar.  Is this an investment in me or my art, or am I lucky enough simply to have lived so long?  Having received many grants and fellowships in my career, this feels about the same.  Not worrying about money means you can use your mind on more interesting thoughts.

But it is always something.  Robert A. Heinlein said that “man is not a rational animal;  he is a rationalizing animal”.  Plus the fact that I am a boomer.  We are unable to accept what is happening to us, we are selfish individuals, and perhaps this is what Heinlein is speaking about.  I simply cannot be that grandmother in a house dress!  Of course, that grandmother in a house dress never got her own social security; she never “worked”.

In addition to interacting with the aforementioned government program, we are applying for SSI for our 16 year old child with autism.  Now for sure we  fall into the famous “47 percent”.  What do I say to those who criticize me?  That at least we waited until he was 16 (my wealthy stepfather did not apply for social security until he was in his eighties: he did not think it was fair to the country)?  How else would we get job training, and get him to and from that job?  How do we pay for a child, then a man, who might always live with us?  How would we pay for the training regarding every domestic detail of independent living if he is lucky enough to experience that?

Things are getting even stranger.  We are now told that our son with autism should have been enrolled in Medicaid when he was diagnosed.  That was at age three.   His doctor visits have been totally normal all his life up until quite recently.  We have his pediatrician’s notes from birth.  Lately, he is on some medication for anger, but thanks to Wal-mart, his meds are only about eight dollars a month.  I am wondering about this one:  it seems excessive.   I do know that when we need help for his anger problems, and he is getting bigger and stronger all the time, the facility in SC which performs the service of stabilizing meds takes Medicaid.  We could not pay that bill alone.

So here is the plan.  We apply for Medicaid, and wait for the next anger incident. We hope we are not injured.  Our social worker writes up a “critical package”, and then he can go to the facility for a week or so and get his meds managed.  Professional analysis.

Four years ago we were married in Rome.  Glenn did a flip using a Segway and landed flat on his back on the Piazza del Popolo.  Two women immediately called an ambulance, he was taken to a hospital, thoroughly examined including an x ray  and given a prescription.   No charge.  Italy even does this for tourists.  Doesn’t this seem simpler?

See:  COMBAT WITH THIEVES OF TIME/Waste as a Way of Life and VINCENT AND GARRETT/Waste as a Way of Life