Cancer Patients Facing Death Thanks to the Republican Sequester

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While conservatives whine about White House tours and look for praise over the great sacrifice of ending their tax payer subsidized haircuts, Americans are feeling the pinch of sequester in their ability to survive.

For some people the sequester means making ends meet harder and yes they are suffering in ways that doesn’t matter to the corporatists in the Republican Party. As noted by our guest contributor, Republicans in Tennessee call their version of a starve the poor policy an incentive to improve school performance.

Even before the Sequester, people on Medicaid were more likely to have chronic illnesses simply because there is a long established nexus between poverty and chronic health problems.  Policies like the one in Tennessee will only increase illness and do nothing to improve school performance.

As Gallup‘s data shows, the poorest among us continue to be prone to chronic health problems.

Gallup chronic illness and poverty

It isn’t surprising that as poverty goes up illness trickles down much faster than prosperity.

According to a study  in Kentucky released in February:

“While changes in our healthcare delivery system may provide more healthcare opportunities for low income Kentuckians, these results show how vital a strong economy, and jobs that pay well, are to our population’s health.”

Before the Republican Party’s policies gave us the great recesson, Steven Wolf conducted a similar study in Virginia.  In 2006, he warned:

“More than half remained uninsured specifically because they simply couldn’t afford it, the CDC said. Research consistently highlights the negative link between reduced income and worsening health — as salaries drop, individuals tend to be more stressed, and generally lead less-healthy lifestyles.

These people are going to develop diseases at a higher rate and the health care system is going to feel the brunt of it,”

Simply put,  there is a nexus between poverty and chronic health issues. There is also a nexus between jobs that provide a living wage and having a healthy way of living.  I refuse to call it a healthy lifestyle, because that infers that people in poverty actually have the luxury of choosing expensive nutritious foods over affordable less nutritious ones.  It suggests that there is enough flexibility in the resources of someone who lives in poverty to not only get nutritious foods but enough of them.  People who are starving are less likely to exercise. Contrary to the GOP’s rhetoric, living in poverty means constant stress be it worrying about feeding the kids or if you’ll have a roof over your head next week.

Cuts to Medicaid mean that someone who is most in need of medical care will fall through the holes in the safety net that only got larger with the sequester. It’s bad enough that people who suffer from chronic ailments directly related to poverty will fall through these holes.  However, the suffering that comes with Sequester doesn’t end there.

The Washington Post reports that cancer clinics are turning away thousands of cancer patients because of the Sequester.  This isn’t limited to one or a few states.  It’s happening across the country.

Oncologists say that because of the Sequester cuts to Medicaid they can’t administer expensive and lifesaving chemotherapy and stay afloat at the same time. They have to choose between providing patients with life-saving chemotherapy and staying in business to at least save someone’s life.

For patients, this means trying to get the treatment they need to survive at a hospital.  Granted it’s more expensive, which is ironic since the alleged objective of cutting spending is to reduce costs.

One study from actuarial firm Milliman found that “chemotherapy delivered in a hospital setting costs the federal government an average of $6,500 more annually than care delivered in a community clinic.”

Even if the twisted logic of making things more expensive actually cuts spending, there is the added problem that since most Medicare patients receive their treatments at oncology clinics instead of hospitals, it’s doubtful that hospitals will have the ability to take these patients on.

There is no way around it.  This means there are cancer patients who simply won’t get treatment.  I lost both of my parents to cancer, but I remain forever thankful that they had access to treatment for cancer along with the depression and cluster of other things that are part of the package. They didn’t have to hunt for a hospital to treat them because some lawmakers were too cheap and greedy to give a damn about the people they were hired to represent. There is no diplomatic way to express the contempt I have for politicians who place a higher priority on handouts to corporations and people who not only have more than they will ever need, but more than their children and grandchildren will ever need than on the lives of parents, grandparents or children who don’t have enough to provide the bare necessities of life. To my way of thinking, this isn’t merely bad policy. It’s criminal.  It amounts exterminating people simply because they are poor, or at least not rich enough to buy a corrupt politician.

There is no way around it.  While Republicans whine about cuts to small portions of the handouts they and their friends get it isn’t as if their lives depend on travelling by private jet or getting a subsidized haircut. It isn’t as if paying some taxes will mean a difference between survival and a shorter life expectancy for the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and others who think the world revolves around them.

The same cannot be said about cuts that literally take the food out of children’s mouths.That only perpetuate the social, economic and health consequences of increased poverty or the inevitable death of a cancer patient because chemotherapy wasn’t accessible.

There is nothing moral about it and there’s nothing about it that resembles the Christianity that conservatives claim to believe in.

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