Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Not being insured can kill you

Mike Herrera, a member of a noted Dallas family of restaurateurs, died the other day. He waited over 19 hours in a county hospital emergency room, suffering from severe abdominal pain, before he collapsed. Doctors were unable to revive him.

He was uninsured.

As I pointed out a little while back, a McCain health care policy adviser name of John Goodman is on record saying that emergency room care guarantees mean nobody in America is uninsured. All we need to do is change what we call people who don't buy health insurance policies:

But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)

"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

"So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

Here's an excerpt from a Dallas Morning News article about Mike Herrera's death:

[Jimmy] Herrera praised the doctors who tried to save his brother's life.

"I want to commend those doctors for working on him so long and so hard trying to bring him back," Mr. Herrera said.

He also said he understands the reality of the wait.

"Anybody who goes to Parkland knows they are going to be there eight, 10, 14 hours if you go to the emergency," Mr. Herrera said. "If you're not dying or not a gunshot wound or a heart attack victim, you're going to be at the back of the line...

Of the long wait, Jimmy Herrera also said: "In a sense, it's the price you pay for not having private insurance."

Changing how you classify his status with the census will not change the man's fate. Mike Herrera is dead.

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