Monday, November 28, 2011

Fighting Cancer: Battling Bureaucratic Bull-Hockey

I'd meant to give an update earlier on Mom's battle with Medicare in regard to her remaining chemo treatments, but there's been no change in her status. It's been over three weeks, and there's been no word from Medicare. Mom calls her doctor's office and the Cancer Patient Services everyday to see what all she do to help expedite the process, but other than filling out more paperwork to appeal the decision Medicare made to stop her chemo, there seems to be nothing else for her to do but wait. Wait and grow weaker.

We've since learned that Medicare is suppose to make a decision within two weeks (14 days) of being notified that the doctor and patient are appealing their decision. The doctor's office manager assures us that the appeal was made the day they learned of Medicare's halting Mom's treatment. It's been 24 days since her last treatment as of today, so it appears Medicare bureaucrats can't read a calendar.

Mom received some papers from the government which stated that if her health or life were in jeopardy then Medicare would make a decision within 72 hours (3 days). Okay, her health is in jeopardy--she even admitted to me over Thanksgiving that she felt "weak like I did before I started the chemo." It breaks my heart. Her appetite had been improving and everyone had remarked that she looked a lot better. Now this... Obviously Medicare bureaucrats interpret having cancer as a "minor illness" and not something that needs to be treated agressively and without delay.

Today my chiropractor (who I turn to for help since she doesn't discriminate against people like me without health insurance) tells me that she had to stop taking Medicare payments. She said she'll treat patients for free rather than risk a $10,000 possible fine from Medicare for filing "fraudulent claims" if she forgets to cross a T or dot an I on their forms. I guess Medicare doesn't like to pay for chiropractic adjustments anymore, either, and will use any excuse to put a chiropractor out of business.

Wonderful. I'm sure the pharmaceutical industry has had some hand in this decision. You wouldn't want folks to feel better without the benefit of pain pills and other unnecessary chemicals in their bodies, would you? Well, only if you're making billions of dollars each month off of hooking patients onto prescription drugs, that is...

Every day it seems more and more obvious to me that the current health care situation is a joke. Private insurance companies routinely refuse to pay for treatments and medicines, Medicare seems ready to pull the plug after a short period of treatment, and doctors and chiropractors are forced to deal with crippling paperwork that prevent them from healing their patients.

When is this going to end, people? Is health care a right that all should enjoy or just a perk for the priviledged few? Don't be too fast in answering--how do you know that tomorrow you're still going to be in the "priviledged class"? An upside down mortgage or a company downsizing might knock you to the bottom of the heap like it's done to many of your fellow citizens. No one should think they're safe in this day and age when it comes to affordable and decent health care.

I caught a title of a book in passing online the other day, How Medicare Killed My Father. I don't want it to have a sequel, but short of a miracle and some human compassion from the Medicare bureaucrats who make these life and death decisions to stop/start medical treatments, what else can we do?

Bureaucrats: The first against the wall when the revolution comes... if it ever comes.


A J said...

It's a dreadful situation your mom is in, and she's not the first I've heard of by a long chalk. It seems almost a conspiracy aimed at reducing the elderly population, so they no longer "drain the system" by living an inconveniently long time - such as five years after retirement.

It's an evil, uncivilized attitude that should be rooted out and destroyed.

Kathy said...

I thank god Every day that my father has enough savings to cover most Medicare shortfalls. Of course, also thank goodness, he has not had a major illness. so Far at 88 he has only had Heart issues,gout, and a broken hip.

However, I already know I will not be as well set up as he is, and at this point just don't see retirement in my future. since I have a desk job I should be able to keep working until the end since physical ailments should not be an issue.
At least that's my plan now. I figure if I go mental, well... I won't know how bad things are anyway.

Cindy said...

I pray your dad stays healthy, Kathy. :)

I think I'm with you on the future--retirement? What's that? I was worried for a while about being unemployed and not paying into "the system", but hey! What's the system going to be like in a few years anyway? It won't make much of a difference one way or another. I'm without health insurance now, and I'll be without health care in the future. I can't stress out about something I don't have and will never have if this country continues down this road.

I guess it helps that I've already gone "mental"! ;)

Jody said...

I am appalled at this situation, and so sorry to hear that things have not been resolved.

Jody said...

I have just written our Ohio senators, Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman. I have no idea if it will make a difference, but they should be made aware of this horrendous treatment to a lady that helped our community a lot.

Cindy said...

Thanks, Jody! Words alone can't express my joy and adequately thank you for your efforts in writing the Ohio senators on Mom's behalf... More politicians need to be aware of how the "99%" are treated, and why it's imperative we fix the healthcare system NOW before things get much worse for everyone.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! (We could use several million clones of you with your guts and bravery.) :)

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