(The following commentary of mine was published in the Daytona Beach News-Journal today.)
There’s been a lot of talk in our state about health care reform, Medicare, Medicaid and so on. There’s one side who believes health care is a right, and another believes government intervention in health care is wrong.
We are seeing the penultimate example of why health care reform is so urgently needed in our country. For six years, I witnessed first-hand the rape of Medicaid and Ryan White funding at the hands of Florida’s Republican governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist. What were once viable programs providing health care to people in need became bureaucratic jungles of unpaid claims and unmanageable care based upon rigid guidelines designed not to provide the best health care possible, but to deny payment for health care.
Faced with decreasing payments caused by further cuts to these programs, physicians have been forced to quit seeing patients they care for, thanks to political appointees bogging down the system to “save taxpayers money.”
Ten years ago, this area had five physicians handling HIV patients. Today there are none. Now that Dr. Daniel J. Warner has been booted as “the area’s only certified HIV doctor,” can someone out there explain where the hundreds of patients he’s seen over the years are supposed to go? Many of these patients lack the funds and transportation to go out of our area to see a capable physician. Will they have to see a physician who (most likely) is overwhelmed already? A physician untrained in the complex and ever-changing scope of care these patients need? How does the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida plan on ensuring proper care for these patients?
Here’s a message to Jim L. Mayo, chairman of the Health Planning Council: Instead of donating money to Republican political candidates and health insurance PACs, how about spearheading real reform to health care by supporting our president? Or will Mayo be content with the knowledge that his actions might very well lead to the death of so many patients?