Texas' Ground War on Obamacare

Texas' stance on Obamacare is ruining the lives of some of its most at-risk citizens.

Texas' Ground War on Obamacare
Justin Renteria

Carol Hardaway woke in the morning and padded over to her 8-month-old son's crib. A towheaded blue-eyed boy peered up at her, smiling, enveloped in one of her old T-shirts. "Are you ready to get up?" she asked. She reached down into the crib and wrapped her hands around his torso to lift him and was surprised that she couldn't. Even as she saw her right hand make contact, she couldn't feel Chris' warmth or his softness. It was as though her fingers belonged to someone else. She picked him up with her left arm and went about the morning, readying herself for work tending bar at TGI Fridays. Hardaway had an unsettled feeling in her stomach. That day, January 17, 1986, is a date as easy for her to recall as her own birthday.

"I started crying. I didn't go through the pity party, but I grieved. It was life-changing. I was diagnosed three days before my son turned 5," Hardaway says.

Behind the bar, the suspicion that something was very wrong only grew. She picked up a mixing tin with her right hand and dropped it. She knelt down to pick it up and dropped it again. And again. Her arm felt like she had slept on it. She informed the manager that she had to go. "Something is wrong with me." She checked into a hospital in Plantation, Florida. The doctors suspected stroke and ordered a battery of tests. They performed a spinal tap to check for meningitis and insisted she remain under observation. She called her parents and asked them to pick her son up from the sitter.

After a week, the hospital released her. She was negative for meningitis, stroke or cerebral palsy, but the numbness and listlessness had spread to her entire right side. The diagnosis was that her symptoms were psychosomatic.

Carol Hardaway had to move from Texas to get treatment for multiple sclerosis.
Dylan Hollingsworth
Carol Hardaway had to move from Texas to get treatment for multiple sclerosis.
Lawrence B. Jones III starred in a video sting that damaged the reputation of health care navigators.
Dylan Hollingsworth
Lawrence B. Jones III starred in a video sting that damaged the reputation of health care navigators.

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Another three weeks passed before life and sensation returned. She went back to work, moved on from the strange episode and raised her son. But some four years later, when she was in her early 30s, her perfect eyesight degraded to near legal blindness. Her peripheral vision was vanishing. Hardaway was passed from an optometrist to an ophthalmologist to a retina specialist, each as confounded by the sudden deterioration of her sight as the last. Then a neural optometrist ran Hardaway through an MRI and showed her the folds of her brain, rendered in shades of gray. She pointed to tiny black spots, lesions where the insulation on the wiring of her brain had corroded, and diagnosed Hardaway with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the axons, which transmit signals from the brain to the rest of the body. There is no cure, and someday it could get worse.

"I started crying. I didn't go through the pity party, but I grieved. It was life-changing. I was diagnosed three days before my son turned 5," Hardaway says.

After a while, the episode passed much like the last. That was the pattern — brief flare-ups followed by long remission. Eventually, the disease attacked her short-term memory so that there were times when she couldn't remember if she'd brushed her teeth. Muscle spasms caused her "breathtaking pain," and she experienced fatigue that sleep couldn't remedy. The symptoms came and went, and Hardaway lived in between them the best she could.

In 1994, she married the man who provided tech support for TGI Fridays' phone system, and they set up a successful installation company. They bought a beautiful old house for next to nothing in Celina, in Collin County. Chris grew into a young man who knew when to straighten out his mother's curling toes and arching ankles as she had one of her spasms.

On a recent afternoon, 59-year-old Hardaway, a tiny fireplug of a woman with a loud, hoarse laugh and a devious sense of humor, tottered across the creaking wood floors on recalcitrant legs, leaning on walls, chairs and tables as she made her way through the home. In the last six months, her illness hasn't gotten better like it did before. Accumulating scar tissue on her brain from decades of flare-ups has created a permanent and steadily worsening condition. She's falling too much. For the first time, she's using a cane. She hasn't been treated since her diagnosis and hated the side effects of the steroids her doctor gave her.

Hardaway knows she needs treatment but hasn't had health insurance since she left TGI Fridays. When she and her husband ran their business and times were good, they just paid cash when they needed to see a doctor. They've since divorced. Hardaway has waited tables at a local diner over the last few years when she feels up to it, but now that her legs won't cooperate, she's living on what's left in her retirement account. In her condition, insurance is prohibitively expensive, even with the state-administered high-risk health insurance pool. That's about to be terminated anyway, and the insured will be rolled over to the federal health insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

Since Hardaway has no income, she won't be able to afford even that. She exists in what's known as the "Medicaid gap." In Texas, Medicaid has typically covered the completely disabled, those above the age of 65 and living on a low income, pregnant women and low-income families — categories Hardaway doesn't fit into. Nor is she eligible for the Obamacare insurance subsidies available to people whose incomes place them just above the federal poverty level. Even with her retirement savings, she wouldn't qualify. That's why the health care law expanded Medicaid for people like Hardaway, who live below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, earning less than $12,000 a year. The cost of the Medicaid expansion would be covered by the federal government for the first three years and gradually phased back to a 90-percent contribution, with 10 percent of the cost paid by the state.

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41 comments
castorie.handley93
castorie.handley93

I guess that at the end of the day, a private insurance for long-term care needs is still the best choice for everyone. I mean, why shouldn't it? A choice of your policy and nursing facility. The only tricky part is that you have to delve very deep to understand and maximize your policy. Long-term care insurance companies will just keep you abreast on the basic things, nothing less, nothing more which can be very frustrating.


An article posted on http://www.completelongtermcare.com/resources/policy-types.aspx gave me a broader perspective on what really happens in the senior care industry. if you're good enough that you managed to save a little, nursing facilities will have you under their roof. After that, little by little, your estates will be sucked just to satisfy the nursing facility. What happens next,  you ask? Medicare. Medicaid.

animas
animas

Usually my eyes just glaze over when there is a series of "personal narrative"  out of context "news"stories strung together with little adherence to actual factual details (memo to Amy:  MS does not cause "black spots" on MRI scans--the "spots" are usually bright on key sequences).  The lady featured above has lived in many states.  Why is Texas to blame for her specific dilemma-having MS, i.e.?  It sounds as though she does need to be with her adult son in Maryland and she made the correct decision in moving from rural Texas (rural healthcare is not usually the best) to urban Maryland. (BTW the Maryland health care exchange has had some problems according to the WP and has failed to the extent that 120 million tax dollars have been wasted) Ms. Silverstein however does reveal a few interesting facts about this mutant bastard law:  "TDI has received 1 milion dollars from the Feds under this law and- failing to get anything done(sic)- returned only $100 thousand. " The problem with the law is that it continues to be a cash cow for insurance companies and their self promotional state bureaucracies such as the Texas Dept of Insurance(TDI) .  Health Insurers are huge lobbyists in DC targeting and giving campaign contributions to both parties.They seem to be profiting enormously from this legislation.  The legislation could not be more pro-insurance industry if they had written it themselves (some say they did).  When we all get tired of being ripped off, why don't we all work together to get a coherent national health care policy enacted?  (I wish).

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

If so many human beings (remember those?) were not being abused, denied access and given no alternative by the State of Texas's infantile refusal to accept millions in federal money to amp-up Medicaid as part of the United States' first forays into repairing a badly-broken healthcare regime, I would just out-and-out guffaw at ideologue Scary Rick Perry's supposed stand against "federal encroachment" against Texas--whatever "Texas" in the twisted automobile wreck that resembles the so-called mind within the governor's inch-and-a-half thick skull might actually mean.  The problem is, people indeed are getting hurt. 

Before I managed to move myself from the ever-oppressive workaday world of just gobsmackingly ridiculous underemployment to the relative safety of SSDI, and thus Medicare, being one of the 40 percent of temporary and contract workers in the United States left my physical health a matter of "personal responsibility", mainly because only late in my so-called career as a white-collar office temporary did temp agencies begin providing long-standing workers the option of healthcare, and if sick, I had to go to the last house on the block: the ever-overloaded, ever-overcrowded, ever-overworked Parkland ER and urgent care clinics. 

While Parkland's ER and urgent care clinic network are excellent in terms of care, the nurses and doctors were always overworked to exhaustion because of the weight of masses of people with no other options.  And that care is not free.  Every ER visit costs from between $1,000 and $5,000, and if patients use those services and then skip the bill, the onus of making-up those costs comes down to Dallas County taxpayers. 

The British hospital system has a code they use when the intercom announces a patient is dying, one quite tricky indeed, mainly because people had figured-out the old codes and now CTD is the acronym of choice.  What's it mean?  Circling The Drain. 

Doubtless that is how many ER doctors and nurses feel with tsunamis of poor, uninsured people who really do need care.  But since Scary Rick Perry's little behind is padded, he knows nothing about what it is like to sit on a hard bench for up to 15 hours waiting for the triage system (worst cases first) to allow you to see a doctor.  Inconvenience for the poor, nothing but cushy hospital rooms and nearly empty ER waiting rooms for those with privatized health care insurance. 

Lucky for all of us, Parkland Hospital is one of the best public hospitals in the entire world, and the federal government, and many states that are following the lead, want to help both the public hospital systems and the people those systems serve. 

Scary Rick Perry may flounce his so-called "Christian cred" like Tammy Faye Baker, but where the rubber meets the road, our spiritually impoverished governor has nary a clue in regards to what charity may actually mean.  He's no good Samaritan, he wants money.  And if Christianity is your yen, who really cares what institution helps the poor stay healthy? 

I certainly do not see Perry putting his foot down on fast food restaurants.  So where's the beef? 

That's easy: Scary Rick Perry, El Supremo, has nary a clue.  He does have nice clothes and, insofar as vanity is concerned, well, take a look at that hair. 

j.reid
j.reid

Wow. Sure is funny how the headline puts the blame on Perry for this mess Obama created while trying to quickly skim over the fact that Obamacare did not make any provision for these people caught in the gap or budget enough money to even cover the cost of implementing their own program. What a disaster.

ROFLCopter
ROFLCopter

Three cheers for Texas.  Once the Federal money runs out the states that decided to jump in on this flea circus will be left holding a bag of exploding cost.  

aircooledtx
aircooledtx

Everyone who signs up for medical ,under Obamacare will receive just that medical. All the hipe is just to try and appeal the law. Medicaid & Care are corrupt give this Act time to work.

dfwheathen
dfwheathen

No Ruddski yet? Or he doesn't like the long articles?

jarw
jarw

NEWS FLASH: Factcheck.org just exploded while reading this article, due to the overwhelming amount of false and misleading statements.


By the way Enroll America is a registering voters, stealing their information, then using it to campaign for democrats. This is illegal and Battle Ground Texas works with them to elect and campaign for Wendy Davis.  Battle Ground Texas is stealing voter info to campaign for Wendy Davis.  Maybe the observer should write about that.  Better yet, keep to advertising strip clubs and adult "massages", it seems to be what you're best at. 

Watch Battle Ground Texas is break the law for Wendy Davis:

m.youtube.com/watch?v=gXKwQI_0kDI&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DgXKwQI_0kDI

rogernorthup1
rogernorthup1

It's clever and insulting to write a heart-wrenching anecdote and use it to justify a government program.  We don't want our representatives governing with their heart.

Catbird
Catbird

The lady will be evaluated by an Obama death panel at some point to see if she is worthy of the funding. Maybe she'll come back to Texas when that happens. We'll still be here and we'll still be red.

barron50
barron50

I hate the fact that we are FORCED to get insurance or get Taxed. how is that fair?


Paying out of pocket is actually cheaper at the Doctors office for me and the Doctor was say she is thinking of dropping all Medicaid patient because they don't always get paid right away. 

My insurance deductible went from a $500 to $3.000. and I have to pay that first before they will pay anything else.  So I decided to pay the tax penalty and not get any insurance.


I use a Prescription discount card and my meds are also cheaper.


I'm sure this OBAMACARE helps the truly needed but it also helps the Lazy that do not work and get free medical thru medicaid.


Quit Forcing it on us give us the option to not carry insurance with out a penalty tax.

jhstans
jhstans

I offer my congratulations to the good Christians of Texas! They saved several hundred dollars and lost several million dollars. They saved by driving ths poor woman out of her home state and they lost the federal money for Medicaid.


Politicians are, generally a rum lot but the ones in Texas seem to be particularly awful and the people seem to demand it.


Please secede from the Union and stop embarrassing the rest of us.

Amayi
Amayi

The ACA did make provisions to cover people like Carol, but the Supreme Court changed the law. And the ACA, unlike Bush's Medicare Part D, was fully paid for.

Amayi
Amayi

Nope, states would never pay more than 10% of the healthcare bill for this group, and economists say the societal gains would outweigh the costs by billions.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@bvckvs  Under the Affordable Care Act there will be far fewer choices and less competition. Times article. " Of the roughly 2,500 counties served by the federal exchanges, more than half, or 58 percent, have plans offered by just one or two insurance carriers, according to an analysis by The Times of county-level data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. In about 530 counties, only a single insurer is participating. "


Face it - the public is being lied to by both the Democrats and Republicans when it comes to health care.


The ACA won't cover everyone, and it will force people seeking coverage to buy from monopolists. 

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@bvckvs  "examples provided are about the bureaucracy, not the law"   And how does one separate the two?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@dfwheathen  no ruddski, but I see bvckvs is here to say some dumb shit.  Let me go read this asshats comment

AreaMan
AreaMan

@jarw The stachute refers to county officials (i.e. government workers/officials) taking down the information. Volunteer deputy registrars are not government officials and therefore the stachute does not apply to them.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Catbird  "Death Panels" is a myth made up by Sarah Palin.  Politifact named it the "Lie of the Year" in 2009.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@barron50  $3,000 deductible?  Not necessarily.  Check on any adjustments that might lower it.  Your income will come into play on this one.

Lorlee
Lorlee

@barron50 And one hopes that you have enough money to pay out of pocket if something bad happens and you show up at the Emergency Room expecting the rest of us to pick up your tab.  Health care costs money and we are all in this together and we all need to contribute.


Also one is required to have car insurance -- how is this different?

the_lion1960
the_lion1960

@jhstans Contrary to Popular Opinion Texas cannot secede from the Union that right was removed from the Texas Constitution by the Texan Legislature in the 1870's. It is sad that America is the Only First world country that doesn't have a Universal health system, and don't come with the best health service in the World either, great doctors but not a great service, what is it 37th in the World with Cuba above it, sad really!

jarw
jarw

@AreaMan @jarw  I didn't write this, but I think it will clear up the misunderstanding.


Whether Battleground did anything wrong in the process comes down to how the law is interpreted. Section 13.004 of the Texas Election Code says, in part, that county registration officials may not “transcribe, copy or otherwise record a telephone number furnished on a registration application.”

According to (Nandita) Berry spokesman Jeff Hillery, the “volunteer deputy registrars” who sign up voters for groups like Battleground Texas are subject to the same criminal liability that applies to county officials. A violation of that statute is considered misdemeanor “official misconduct” and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, jail time of up to six months or both, the law says. Hillery said phone numbers on voter registration applications are treated as confidential information.

rogernorthup1
rogernorthup1

@bvckvs @rogernorthup1 Clever, but not true.  The general welfare is roughly defined as what will be useful and available for ANYONE in the country, e.g. highway system, court system, national defense, infrastructure, etc. Giving certain benefits to certain groups of people is NOT a general welfare issue and is technically NOT allowed by the Constitution because of the very phrase "general welfare".

martin.peterson1961
martin.peterson1961

@bvckvs @barron50

"We" (as in Texans) did not pass Obamacare.  In fact most Americans did not want it when DEMOCRATS passed it all ontheir own.

It was a total failure of representative government and More Americans are against it now than when it passed.

jarw
jarw

@Lorlee @barron50  Driving is a privileged, you have a choice, same with homeowners insurance.  If I choose to drive or own a home I have to have insurance.  I don't have the choice with obamacare.  It would be like forcing me to buy car insurance even though I don't own a car.  But its ok because we are all in this together and people who cant afford their car insurance need to drive.


Yes, I agree we all need health insurance, but a 20yr old doesn't need the same level of insurance and a 50yr old.  If I have to pay for a 50yr old's health insurance maybe they should pay for the 20yr old's higher auto insurance.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@Lorlee You have to take a test to drive, but not to vote.  How is that any different?

See what I did there?

epicmale
epicmale

@the_lion1960 @jhstans Cuba better than the US system?  LOL...  So you trust murdering, oppressive, communists' statistics over the reality related by tens of thousands of refugees that have first hand experience?  Sheesh....talk about useful idiots....

martin.peterson1961
martin.peterson1961

@jarw

The way I see it if it depends on interpretation of a simple easy to understand law it is probably graft and corruption that is seeking a favorable "interpretation"

Basic ethics says what battleground texas is doing is wrong.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@bvckvs @rogernorthup1  Health care reform is desperately needed but ACA is far from the answer.   Signing up for HCA after your already sick does not help preparation. 

dyoung112060
dyoung112060

@martin.peterson1961 @bvckvs@barron50if the democrats could have the ability to pass it on their own then "Most Americans" must have wanted it, since that means MORE Americans voted in Democrats then Republicans !


this is based on the concept called "ARITHMETIC", you should all learn about it sometime.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@bvckvs  There are smart liberals out there, you are not one of them.

Lorlee
Lorlee

@epicmale Do you have any figures disputing those numbers?  Put up or shut up.  


I have been to Cuba and they provide basic health care for all their citizens and even export doctors to other South and Latin American countries.

the_lion1960
the_lion1960

@epicmale @the_lion1960@jhstans No I refer to the fact that the US system is so bad that Cuba's Medical system is actually better, of course in your quick snap back you have failed to realize that there were another 35 countries that also had superior medical systems! OOOOPS! World Super Power, 37 in health care! Forget the Cuba comment what about the other 36!

 
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