Sunday, January 07, 2007

Love In The Time Of Aneurisms

What a coincidence that someone posted a comment asking about my latest rant. I don’t always have something to rant about, but I actually do have something to rant about today. I just got back from L.A., where I went to visit a very good family friend who is in intensive care after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. I got a distressed call from my friend’s daughters who were having trouble securing treatment for their mother because she doesn’t have medical insurance. My friend takes care of her elderly father and aunt and receives a small stipend for this service, but she is not eligible for medical coverage and doesn’t make enough to be able to buy medical insurance. So basically, she makes just enough to screw herself out of qualifying for Medi-Cal, but not enough to be able to purchase an insurance plan.

My friend suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on New Year’s Eve and was taken to the emergency room at Glendale Memorial Hospital where she was diagnosed and stabilized. Her family was told that she must have surgery to stop the hemorrhage, but that the operation could not be performed there because my friend doesn’t have insurance. My friend’s family was put through hell trying to figure out a way to get the hospital to either release their mother so that she could seek treatment elsewhere or try to secure an acceptable method of payment so that they would perform the surgery there. I urged the daughters to do their best to not allow their mother to be thought of as just another case number. They had to make it personal to the doctors and nurses at the hospital so that their mother’s situation would become a human concern rather than simply another case to process through the system.

You won’t believe the strategy that finally worked. My friend has 11 brothers and sisters, each of whom drove to the hospital with his/her spouse and all their children. By all estimates, there were about 80 people in the waiting room. The group formed a large prayer circle, spilling out into the hospital lobby and began fervently asking Nuestro Senor Jesucristo and la Virgen de Guadalupe to intervene on my friend’s behalf. As nighttime approached, sleeping bags were brought in and an all night vigil ensued. I don’t know if it was divine intervention or the fact that the staff freaked out at having so many people jamming up the place but on the third day she was moved to a hospital where the surgery had been approved.

Today I found out that my friend was able to have solid food for the first time since New Year’s Eve. She has not had the surgery she needs because despite numerous tests they have been unable to pinpoint the location of the rupture but she is stable and her family and I feel that the team at this hospital is doing everything possible to provide her with medical attention, regardless of her financial situation.

I once felt that socialized medicine would help bridge the gap in access to medical care that exists between the haves and the have-nots, but after visiting hospitals in Nicaragua and talking to friends who have used the medical facilities in places that have socialized medicine, I wonder if I wouldn’t be writing a rant about that option if we had it here in the U.S. I don’t know what the answer is. I do believe that we should all have access to vital medical care.

It turns out that this Monday, California Governor Schwarzenegger will be proposing insurance coverage for all children in that state and would eventually like to extend it to adults as well. It’s a start and certainly worthy of discussion, no matter which party proposes it. Basic health insurance and access to medical treatment should be a human right, not a privilege nor a benefit solely for those who can afford it.

So that’s my little rant for this week. I wasn’t worried about the health care problem in this country until it personally affected my loved ones. It never occurred to me to worry because I’ve always had insurance through my employer. You might want to ask yourself how many of the people you know and care about don’t have health insurance and might not have access to proper medical treatment if they needed it. And for those of you who live in California and want to join the discussion, the Governor’s office is hosting a live web forum on Monday and they are soliciting questions now.


Matt "Max" Van said...

Agreed: That Health Care is a human right. That human rights are greater than financial rewards. That we should judge a society based upon how it treats its weakest citizen, not upon how it rewards its richest.

Matt "Max" Van said...

Oh, and not to turn attention, but speaking of friends with health problems, if you get a moment you might want to check out this:

Anonymous said...

That's not a rant!!! That's a human interest story - although a good one.

Where's the anger! Homegirl got shafted big time, and those scumfuck, bottom-feeding swine of the healthcare establishment, need more verbal abuse!!!! Those dirty fuckers need serious justice administered upon them!!!

Where is Violence Girl? What would Darby say? Is this what crafting with the hippies in the Arizona desert does to people?

I pray for you Alice,and hopefully some day your venom will return!

Alice Bag said...

How about you shut the fuck up? Like that better?

Peace and love,

l.a. geo said...

You go Miss Alice!!

First of all anonymous, the word "rant" has some pretty negative conotations. Webster's dictionary defines rant as: to talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner, or to scold vehemently. Nothing Miss Alice writes has come near that kind of vibrational frequency, until you of course, pissed her off!

Second, to Miss Alice, I am so sorry about your friend. I am a social worker in the LA area, working with the Latino and African American poor for the past 20 years (my punk beliefs took me to a place where my political agenda could be realized i.e., working with the oppressed.) Anyway, I can't tell you how many times I have encountered similar situations. However, with your friend, I wonder why emergency Medi-Cal was never offered? I know that in most situations, the county hospitals offer that, or at least a screening for an "ability to pay" program. I'm wondering why that was overlooked. Sometimes private hospitals won't offer that as an option because they don't want to take the low reimbursement of the California Medi-Cal system.

In the future, uninsured Californians might want to think about buying Kaiser insurance, which I think has some of the lowest cost, private pay plans, for around $175 a month, steep for some people I'm sure, but a visit to the ER for a broken arm (or hemmorage) would more than make up for the cost.

So, I've said my piece and will pray for Miss Alice, anonymous, Miss Alice's friend, and of course, my self.

Oh by the way, you should advise your friend to apply for Social Security Disability, which will provide her with some income while she recuperates. If you would like, I can also check some resources for possibly getting her Medi-Cal, as I have a friend who works in that area.

Alice Bag said...

L.A. Geo, thank you very much for your suggestions, I will definitely share them with my friend's family.

And because I suspect that Anonymous intended his/her remarks to be somewhat humorous, I’d like to give a more measured response than my last one. Darby Crash is dead, so it's easy to put whatever words you'd like into his mouth. Lots of people think they know what Darby would say or do if he were still around. He is frozen in time for them in a one-dimensional version that speaks only through his lyrics, some memories or stories that they’ve read about him. He’s not a middle aged man having to deal with the realities of everyday life.

But for those of us who are still around, we can't be defined in such simple terms. I'm not the same Violence Girl that I was at seventeen. I'd like to think that age brings with it some measure of wisdom which allows me to use my venom with discretion. I still have plenty of venom left and there’s no shortage of targets for it, but if I just ranted all the time, life (and this blog) would get pretty tedious.

Jenny Lens said...

Alice, I haven't had health insurance since 1990. I make too much for Medi-Cal and certainly not enough to afford insurance, not even Kaiser (that $175 was for younger people).

I don't live with friends nor family. If I were carted off to the hospital, I'd die in that situation. Which is why all people, ESPECIALLY citizens who've paid taxes all their life, should get treatment.

It shouldn't take a large prayer circle. What if one is alone?

l.a. geo said...

FYI, All county hospitals in LA have what is known as "Emergency Medi-Cal," in the event you qualify income wise. However, they also all have "Share of Cost Medi-Cal" in which you are financially screened and pay a certain percentage of your medical bill. You or someone who represents you should get to the financial services office of the hospital as soon as is possible in order to begin the screening for either of these programs. I used to work in a county hospital so I know these systems.

For JLens, there is a free program for Medical care in LA County, It's called Queen's Care and they provide medical care for adults who have no insurance coverage and don't quality for Medi-Cal. I'll post that number for you later.

Also, in the LA area, if you press 211 on the telephone, you will access a new program which will give you referrals to all social services and free or low cost medical programs available in LA county.

Now, for Miss AB, let me tell you about one way that I was able to get Medi-Cal for my sister, who had a cancerous brain tumor (she later died). I got her into the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS)program (probably the same program that paid your friend for taking care of the elderly relatives.) Although we had a share of cost for this program, it automatically gave us Medi-Cal: Since the share of cost was for the in home attendant, who was my other sister, we just didn't bill for that amount. Does take make sense? In essence, my sister stated that my other sister paid her the share of cost amount, which she didn't of course, but we got Medi-Cal nonetheless. I hope that makes sense. When your friend gets out of the hospital, refer her to the LA In Home Supportive Services program which is at (213) 744-4477. If they can't get through that line, have them call the 211 number for their local office.

Best of luck to everyone, l.a. geo

Anonymous said...

hey alice,

i would have emailed you with this but you don't list an email on your site (that i can find, at least) so i'll just ask it here.

any news on that portland documentary with footage of the bags playing? like, do you know if there is a title, or a site or if it has even been made yet? i'd really like to get my hands on it. :)


jennifer doyle said...

Hi - we met once via Ms. Vaginal Davis (I used to dj for her club, Bricktops). How might I get in touch with you? I am curating an exhibit and am hoping you can participate... Please e-mail me at:



Jen Diggity said...

Aliiice! Please don't make me wait too much longer for a new post!
Love and kisses, Jen

godoggo said...

Here's a great article by Paul Krugman in the New York Review of Books, explaining the economics of the health care crisis.

Great blog, Alice. Just discovered it.

godoggo said...

Or copy/paste


king said...

As the population has gotten older, the need for health insurance has increased. Despite possible changes in the regulatory environment, healthcare is expected to continue its rapid expansion.