Monday, August 31, 2009
Dialysis cutoff may be settled by the courts
by Larry Geller
I haven’t written much here recently because I’m working on a new website, and it’s taken longer than expected. I would like to catch up at least on the governor’s cutoff of health services to citizens of the Compact of Free Association countries residing in Hawaii.
The health plan that cuts off dialysis and chemotherapy was to begin tomorrow (Sept. 1). Today the governor backtracked. It was an eleventh hour reprieve of her death sentences.
I learned that two lawsuits may have been filed as well, one in federal court and one in state court, to prevent a cutoff of services, but the court computers don’t have the information yet. I’ll check again tomorrow.
Lingle’s Death Sentence, your own copy
If you would like to see what I’m referring to as a Lingle death sentence, I have scanned one in, with the names redacted. Download your copy here.
Imagine you depend on dialysis to keep you alive. That letter comes in the mail. It starts off, “Aloha” followed by your name. Yup, they know who you are. It goes on to say that the state’s economy is bad, so your health benefits end August 31. Just like that.
There’s an explanation of the new plan. You look, and there is no dialysis. You call the phone number to check. Yes, you get no dialysis. Your heart is pumping and you’re breaking out in a sweat. It’s not swine flu you’ve got, it’s a death sentence from Linda Lingle, governor of Hawaii, sent to you personally.
I did not expect that anyone would be allowed to die, because that would have been the end of Lingle.
Don’t you think it was heartless of her to let the issue go on, tormenting patients and their relatives, until the day before the cutoffs were to go into effect? A petition was raised, our congressional delegates received pleas, and there was the rally at the Capitol earlier this month attended by several state representatives.
If someone doesn’t receive dialysis, they don’t last long. Probably those who were cut off would show up at hospitals and receive services anyway, but even delaying dialysis can drastically shorten life expectancy. Lingle’s cuts were very real health threats to the people involved.
It’s not over yet. Cuts could be imposed in the future if Hawaii can’t get federal funding, or just if Lingle decides to do it.
Another governor might have done everything in her power to keep services flowing. We have Lingle, though.
I hope anyone needing dialysis or chemotherapy gets another personalized letter, and really soon, explaining that their services will continue.
If I find out more about lawsuits I’ll post the info here.