Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner Says Pre-Existing Conditions Are Your Own Fault

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens

My little boy was born with a pre-existing condition, a rather severe one: a blood-storage disease called Type 3 Gaucher disease. In the words of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), his body does not produce the enzyme needed (beta-glucocerebrosidase) to “break down a fatty substance called glucocerebroside into a sugar (glucose) and a simpler fat molecule (ceramide).”

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These gather instead in the spleen and liver. The NIH relates that, “glucocerebroside and related substances can build up to toxic levels within cells. Tissues and organs are damaged by the abnormal accumulation and storage of these substances.” Additionally, my son’s form of the disease is neuropathic. It affects his central nervous system. It is a life-threatening disease. No one knows how long he will live, or how normal a life he will lead. I can’t promise him he will ever have a job, or ever meet a girl, get married, and have children of his own.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia’s insurance commissioner Ralph Hudgens – a Republican and a foe of Obamacare – told a meeting of the CSRA Republican Women’s Club meeting in Evans, GA, that it’s his fault.

Watch courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“I’ve had several companies come in and they have said just the fact — just the fact — that in the individual market pre-existing conditions have to be covered on Jan. 1, that that is going to double the cost of insurance. And if you don’t really understand what covering pre-existing conditions would be like, it would be like in Georgia we have a law that says you have to have insurance on your automobile. You have to have liability insurance. If you’re going to drive on Georgia’s roads, you have to have liability insurance. You don’t have to have collision. You don’t have to have comprehensive. You don’t have to have rental car or towing or anything else. But you have to have liability.

“But say you’re going along and you have a wreck. And it’s your fault. Well, a pre-existing condition would be you then calling up your insurance agent and saying, ‘I would like to get collision insurance coverage on my car.’ And your insurance agent says, ‘Well, you never had that before. Why would you want it now?’ And you say, ‘Well, I just had a wreck, it was my fault and I want the insurance company to pay to repair my car.’ And that’s the exact same thing on pre-existing insurance.”

Hudgen’s logic is tortured, to say the least, because the two are nothing like each other (people are not born with car accidents, for example), and it has not escaped the notice of Georgians, including the chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, DuBose Porter, who said in response,

These remarks illustrate how callous and out-of-touch Ralph and the Georgia Republican Party have become. It is awful to think you could tell a woman who was just diagnosed with breast cancer that it’s her fault.

My son did not develop his disease. He was born with it. It is the fault of a mutated gene. A gene passed on by myself and my wife. Are we then at fault? We were born with it too. None of us had any choice.

When my son was diagnosed at the age of 1½, he had the belly of a woman nine months pregnant and we were told he would have had the same difficulties sleeping. I had tried for some time to attract our pediatrician’s attention to his belly, which reminded me of old pictures I had seen of starving children in Biafra. My son, however, was not starving, which left me wondering what was wrong. He was only diagnosed in the end because of contracting rotavirus on his first birthday, which led (after repeated and increasingly strident phone calls from us) to the intervention of a infectious disease specialist, who upon seeing my son, said, “There is something wrong with this boy.”

My son has had weekly infusions every week of his life since he was diagnosed. He has had two surgeries to implant mediports in his chest through which to infuse the enzyme he needs to live. One of these ports literally disintegrated two years ago, resulting in interventional radiology (the folks who pull bullets out of arteries) to extract pieces of the port that had become attached to his own vein over the years. Each week he spends several hours hooked up to an IV. Until recently, he was told he could not engage in normal childhood activities like soccer because there was a danger that a soccer kick to the stomach would have killed him. We were told he could not ride horses or play football.

We went through hell at his previous school, which was so terrified by his disease that they did not want to let him go to physical education, play on the playground with other children, or even dance. The pharmaceutical company volunteered to perform an in-service at the school which somewhat alleviated things, but did not fully resolve them. It was hard on us as his parents. It was harder on our son, who was made the proverbial ugly stepchild on the school playground. At a time when most children are busy making friends, he was made to play or sit by himself by the door. And Hudgens with his Republican’s blame-the-victim mentality says it was his own fault.

The billing rate for my son’s disease is $83,690/week including visit to the clinic, hospital services, and the medicine itself (the dosage will only continue to increase as he grows). No family can afford this, yet we have been told in the past that we made too much money to qualify for assistance. The free market solutions favored by Republicans gave them the right to say that. But even at $5,000 a week, we could not afford that kind of cost.

Multiply this by 52 weeks and you have $4,352,400/year. Even millionaires can’t afford that, not and remain millionaires. If you look at what the hospital gets paid versus what they charge, you wind up with $1.2 million. That is well above the lifetime max – per year – before Obamacare did away with lifetime maximums.

Literally, President Obama saved my son’s life. Republicans like Ralph Hudgens want to take it. He wants to murder my son, and if he had his way, he would. My son’s body would fill with toxins, and he would die, painfully, but only after the disease had had its way with his central nervous system. And Hudgens and his fellow Republicans would just smile and say, “Well, it’s your fault.”

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