Casualties of the war at home

We hear about the deaths in Iraq, deaths caused by our government's wrongheaded war. Plenty of people are up in arms about that.

Our government causes deaths at home, too -- but the outrage over that, when it even exists, is muted.

An Easter Sunday news story in Monticello NY's Times Herald-Record tells of Eddie Rosa who died because he couldn't afford the now-mandatory prescription drug payments for the 23 medications he was to take daily.

Reporter Tim Logan writes,

Until Jan. 1, Rosa got his drugs for free, because he was a "dual eligible" - poor enough for Medicaid and disabled enough for Medicare. Then Medicare Part D began. It's designed to help seniors pay for prescriptions, but it meant dual eligibles had to pay a little bit for theirs.

Just a little, a $1 to $3 co-pay per prescription, but it adds up. Irons figures Rosa would owe about $30 a month in co-pays.

Rosa didn't get his meds; he got sick; hospitalized; died. (Read Eddie died; was Medicare a part? )

The tone of the story is not one of outrage, however, but rather a kind of almost meek submission.

There's little help out there for people in Eddie Rosa's situation, Logan. writes.

But they shouldn't give up. That's what local pharmacists and senior advocates say.

"At this point, the only reliable resource is the kindness of friends and strangers," said Robert Hayes, president of the Medicare Rights Center.

So ask your doctor, pharmacist or hospital. They may be able to help.

Beyond the inexpressible sadness of an individual's death there is the sadness of a society and a national media that just seems to.... I don't know... seems to have given up.

The story's reported, but it's a kindly, soft story. No outrage. Outrage isn't permitted anymore about things like this. Oh, you can get outraged over a Bush-ism or about Cheney shooting a comrade on a duck hunting snafu.

But people dying because of our government's new drug law, passed by the pharmaceutical companies? No; outrage isn't proper, seems like.

Nor is outrage much seen in stories about people dying because of nursing homes.

A week ago Monday, the Miami Herald carried the story of a twentysomething who said he planned to die rather than move to a nursing home. The nursing home was the only option the state was offering.

His sentiment's not all that surprising. What's surprising is that it made news, of a sort.

Man battles state over at-home care is the story from Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller. She reports that state officials won't let 23-year-old Marlon Barrera have in-home help. Or "home nursing," as Miller puts it.
Though the story is replete with the usual tear-jerker lede -- the young Barrera "in his mind... is Bruce Lee" -- and the typical "stricken with" and "his plight" yada yada yada (Barrera has Duchenne's muscular dystrophy), Miller's got a handle on the issue, alright -- she sees that the young man is planning to end his life rather than be forced into a nursing home. And to some extent she tries to put the blame where it belongs:

...[O]fficials with the state Department of Children & Families are refusing to pay the home nursing bills. They insist Barrera go instead to a nursing home at perhaps double the cost, while he becomes one of more than 3,000 Floridians on a waiting list for home-based healthcare.

Barrera says he will die instead.....

''I'm going to disconnect the [breathing] machine,'' Barrera said. ...

Added his mom: "I've already paid the funeral home. The doctors already have said if he gets sick, he's not coming back.''

She quotes State Sen. Walter G. ''Skip'' Campbell, a Tamarac Democrat who chairs the state Senate Children & Families Committee, who says the legislature has never been asked to increase funding for the state's homecare program ("Indeed, the state budget for the Aged and Disabled Adults program has remained flat in recent years," she writes) and calls the situation with Barrera "unconscionable".

What she doesn't do is get any official to explain to her why, if the state has no money to pay for in home services, they do seem to have money available to pay nursing home operators to provide him a bed in a nursing home, at twice the cost.

I've almost never seen any reporter ask that question.

April 17, 2006 | Email this story


Comments (newest comments at bottom)

There is such little outrage over these issues its pathetic. I too know someone that cannot afford his medications.....he was a police officer hit in the line of duty and cannot afford his medication.
Such will happen to the vets as they come home from the Afghanistan and money for food and drugs and many facing their lives as disabled Americans thrown to the curb.
Until there is more attention brought into the media....these people will die a lonely life....and others like you and me will understand and feel their pain.

Posted by: AJ on April 17, 2006 06:04 PM

Sometimes people don't seem to give a damn about anyone else. I have becker muscular dystrophy and would never want to live in a nursing home.
Here in Sweden most people with disabilities receive in-home help.
Just living with a disability/disease is hard.
Nursing homes kill peoplpe indirectly.
they become passive and depressed.
The state of Florida is destroying a young man's life.

Posted by: Mikael Berghman on April 20, 2006 04:51 PM

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