HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Heallth Care Post-Katrina

Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly links to this excellent LA Times article discussing life for Mr.  Emanual Wilson after Katrina.  While his other needs are being met, unfortunately he cannot obtain the necessary chemotherapy.  Trom the LA Times article,

Like most of those whose lives were upended by Hurricane Katrina, 52-year-old school bus driver Emanuel Wilson can thank the federal government for the fact that he has money to pay rent. He's also been given food stamps to make sure he can buy groceries. And if he had young children, the government would almost certainly be helping them get back to school.

But what Wilson needs is chemotherapy, and that is something the government seems unable to help him with. Wilson was being treated with monthly chemo injections for his intestinal cancer before the hurricane.

He has been denied assistance largely because, before the storm, he had what the government says it wants every American to have: health insurance.

The New Orleans man's plight illustrates one of the most perplexing twists in the still-faltering federal effort to help Gulf Coast hurricane victims: a seemingly inconsistent approach to victims' healthcare needs that appears to punish those who had taken the most responsibility for their own care.

Under the present rules for Katrina victims, if you are destitute, the government will pay your medical bills. Ditto if you are severely disabled or have children. But if you're an adult who had a job that included health benefits and you lost that job because of the storm, the government can't seem to help.

Kevin Drum responds to the article stating,

. . . the best and most fundamental reason for national healthcare is that nobody should have to fear that what's happened to Wilson might happen to them. They shouldn't have to worry that if their company changes healthcare providers they'll lose benefits they once had or be unable to continue seeing their current doctor. They shouldn't have to worry that if they get laid off they'll lose their coverage entirely. They shouldn't have to worry that when they take a new job, they — or their kids — won't be covered for a preexisting condition.

I agree! [bm]

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