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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Universal Health Care in MA: Joke or Reality?

I know a lot has been posted about how lucky Massachusetts residents are that Universal Health Care is coming to our state. It sounds great, doesn't it? But from the moment this bill passed last spring, I've had really bad feelings about it.

First, everyone is required by law to have health insurance. The very poor, who get free care through the hospitals, will no longer be allowed to receive free care. They now must purchase health insurance from the state. The cost averages about $268/month for a family of 4. From free to $268 is a HUGE jump when you're living on minimum wage (which hasn't been changed or given a cost of living increase since 1997, but don't get my started on that!). I don't think most people are going to be able to afford it, and will become outlaws with no healthcare at all. Hospitals aren't going to be required to treat people without universal coverage, so not only will the very poor not get the health care they need, they're also breaking the law by not getting the mandated health coverage.

That alone was enough to make my shake my head in dismay. But that's not even the worst of the problem. The Universal Healthcare will be under the jurisdiction of Mass Health, the medicaid provider for the state. Anyone who has had ever the slightest dealings with Mass Health can attest to how badly this agency is run. But it isn't just the agency. They hire Morons. It's got to be part of the job interview: "Are you a complete rude and obnoxious asshole that will not give out any information, or if you do, it will be an out and out lie and will contradict any online collateral on the Mass Health web site?" "You are and you will?" "Fine, then you are HIRED."

Once the biggest and rudest asshole has secured a coveted Mass Health job, they're golden. They only work until 3 pm. Yes, a GOVERNMENT office closes at 3 pm every day. Better yet, most customers can't ever get to their office because they have moved it to a pretty inaccesible part of the state: Revere. Great if you need to get to the beach, a royal PITA if you need to drop by on your lunch hour. Barely accessible by public transportation, and not accessible by "The Ride", the public transportation the handicapped use. How convenient!

Arguments are still ongoing within the state legislature as to how this bill will play out amongst the citizens. In the meantime, people go without health care. Every adult over the age of 18 on Mass Health no longer can receive either vision care or dental care. There is not one free dentist in the entire state. The poor do without dental care because even the several dental schools we have in Boston barely discount their services. If you're poor, you have your teeth pulled because you can't afford a crown or a bridge.

If you're poor and you wear glasses, you better take really good care of them, because there is no free vision care either. A pair of glasses can easily cost a person a week's wages. If you're going to choose between food and decent vision, food is going to win.

The cuts in vision and dental care are both thanks to Governor Romney, the man currently trying to take credit for universal care. He's a liar and a cheat. He reduced the rolls for Mass Health so that almost nobody qualifies anymore at the same time he's touting universal health care. You tell me which looks more presidential?

I'm very worried about this health care initiative. I believe that the legislators mean well (but not the Governor, he's just scum) but have no clue of what it means to be unable to go to the dentist or get a pair of glasses, or to go to the doctor due to costs. I think they don't understand that $268 month isn't a small contribution to families living below the poverty level (which also hasn't been changed in close to 15 years). The bill says that some families might recieve the health care for free, but having dealt with Mass Health many times, I can promise that those families will be almost invisible there will be so few. The way Mass Health determines who can be accepted for Medicaid is to use the very outdated poverty level templates. You can only earn 10% over the poverty level, which, for a family of 4, is some ridiculous amount.

Mass Health not only doesn't cover disabled people that go over the poverty level guidelines, they refuse to take people on SSI or SSDI into account. That's why I don't have health insurance. I'm poor enough to get free care, but make too much money on SSDI to get Mass Health. Believe me, I DO NOT MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY. They take no cost of living into account.

But the problems with Mass Health don't stop at a stunted eligibility requirement. Let's talk formulary. Every health insurance provider, public or private, has a formulary that informs doctors and patients what medications will be covered. In most cases, formularies try to cover generics if available, and to offer a few choices for doctors when prescribing their patient's medications. Mass Health goes far beyond that. It requires prior authorization by the company for all antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and that's just the beginning. They rarely will cover a medication just because you, the patient, need it and your doctor ordered it. Nope, you've got the MORONS mentioned above making decisions about your health care. They're not doctors, they're not nurses. They have no health care experience. The watchword of their job: DENY. If you appeal: DENY DENY DENY.

Doesn't this sound like an encouraging agency to administer the healthcare of everyone in the state? Doesn't it make you glad to be living in Massachusetts?

Me either.
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1 Comments:

Blogger geenaskye said...

Very true, unfortunately. At this time things have become somewhat better. We now have dental and optometry again, which under Romney was taken away. Great piece, thank you!

20/12/08 8:21 PM  

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