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Monday, November 5, 2012

Dying for Coverage

This post is a guest blog from health care consumer Janet Joy.

Dear Mitt Romney:

           A few weeks ago, you told The Columbus Dispatch that even if you’re uninsured “you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.” I beg to differ.

            My son, Bobby Alexander, died on May 31, 2008 with malignant melanoma. He had attempted to get treatment where he lived in Denton, Texas at Presbyterian Hospital back in January of that year. When they saw his melanoma, they told him they could not treat him there. He and his wife, Melissa, spent until April trying to find someone to treat him. He had surgery on his right thigh at a small day surgery clinic in Denton. By then, he was having headaches.

Finally, Denton Regional Medical Center found a hospital that would treat him. Denton Regional found a lump in his brain. I think it was with a CAT scan. On April 23, the Medical Plaza Center of Fort Worth did brain surgery on him. The Surgeon thought he got all of the cancer. But, the oncologist failed to order the treatment, and he did not receive the chemo and radiation he needed. His headaches returned about two weeks after his return home from his brain surgery. He went back to the hospital (Medical Plaza Center in Fort Worth, Texas). They did nothing for him but give him pain killers. He was sedated and grew increasingly worse.

On May 30, 2008, his Medicaid and Social Security benefits were approved. He had previously been turned down. On that same day, he coded. His brain had hemorrhaged. The next day, the doctors showed us (I think a CAT scan of the hemorrhage) and told us there was little or no brain activity. A little later that day, he was taken off life support and died. It took approximately 10 minutes for the heart of my beautiful, caring, loving son to stop beating.

He died because he did not have insurance. He had been laid off from his job and was unable to return to work because of his leg. All he wanted to do was get better and return to work to support his family. He has four beautiful children who lost their father at the ages of 6, 8, 11, and 12.  

He had no insurance, and every place he and my daughter-in-law tried to get him help turned him down. After he was initially turned down by Medicaid, we tried to get him indigent health care through the program in Denton. But, because my daughter-in-law, Melissa, had a paper route and earns $1,400 a month, he did not qualify for indigent care. So you see, Mr. Romney, when you’re uninsured, you can’t simply go to the hospital and get your bills paid. We tried everything you suggest – charity, the government, the hospital – and none were there for him when he most needed it. People like my son fall through the cracks every day.

On behalf of my dear son,

Janet Joy


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