Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When Life is Sacred and When It's Not!

The right-wing, Sarah Palin, Rep. Michelle Bachman, Limbaugh and Glenn were claiming that Obama's health care plan would bring on 'death panels.' They were trying to scare the public into believing that any changes to the present health care system, by the Democrats, would be a threat to their lives. Of course, their claims were bogus.

But in reality, there are real 'death panels.'They are the insurance companies whose decisions override the treating doctor's decision on whether a drug or procedure is medically necessary. These death panels/insurance companies are already working to deprive needed care to patients.

Via Think Progress
The United States is the only industrialized nation without cradle-to-the-grave, universal health care. In no other developed country would a child with cancer have to go without care because an insurance company decided it was not profitable enough to cover him.

Kyler Van Nocker has neuroblastoma, which is a very rare form of childhood cancer that targets the nervous system and creates tumors throughout the body.

Unfortunately, his health insurer, HealthAmerica, refused to pay for one form of treatment doctors believe could save his life (MIBG treatment) because they consider it “investigational/experimental” since it has yet to be approved by the FDA.

Yet in April 2008, the insurer approved cheaper treatment for Van Nocker that was also “experimental,” prompting Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky to ask, “So why, pray tell, is HealthAmerica playing the ‘experimental therapy’ card in the case of the MIBG treatment Kyler now needs? Gee, money couldn’t have anything to do with the decision, could it?”
Here's a recap:
The insurance company, HealthAmerica, is denying treatment to Kyler, a 5 year old boy with cancer. Kyler's doctors say this treatment is medically necessary to save his life. Otherwise, he will die! HealthAmerica says this treatment is "experimental" but had previously approved a cheaper experimental treatment that put Kyler's cancer in remission for 1 year.

The death panel fury was over doctors being paid for the time they spent to discuss end-of-life issues with patients. The doctors weren't denying any care to their patients. The doctors weren't denying any treatment to their patients.

The denial of treatment by an insurance company to a 5 year old boy with cancer will most probably result in the death of the child.
Where is the rage of Palin, Bachman, the Tea Baggers and the right-wing over the denial of treatment for a child...for that matter for anyone. Why wouldn't they want to change a system that is completely broken and ineffective. Don't they believe that every life is sacred?

UPDATE: The MIBG is working.

Children's Hospital, where Kyler receives much of his care, proceeded with two rounds of MIBG therapy for Kyler - at a cost of $110,000 - despite the VanNockers' inability to pay for it. (CHOP hopes that HealthAmerica will reconsider or that Medicaid will cover the MIBG cost; the VanNockers are Medicaid-eligible because they are bankrupt by medical costs).

That doesn't mean Kyler is out of the woods. His serious diagnosis ensures that his prognosis will always be uncertain.

But for now, because his internationally renowned neuroblastoma doctors, not his insurance company, is making the medical decisions, Kyler might make it to his sixth birthday in November.

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