While reading a digg post about Nataline Sarkisyan (the girl who died after CIGNA refused to pay for a liver transplant) , I found a comment on the bottom (with 0 diggs) by Sharon Bach. The saddest thing is that she wrote it on Christmas. Gee, some Christmas.
If the argument that someone would have died anyway is valid, we should just stop treating all patients with terminal illness and let them die. I just buried my beautiful daughter, Belinda Bach, who died as a result of the inadequacies of the health care system. Her condition only became serious when treatment became unavailable. There is no big insurance company to sue, so the lawyers won’t be interested. Belinda was not allowed to buy health insurance because of chronic health problems. She was denied care in the public sector as well. By the time she was “approved” for SSI (the only way she could “qualify” for Medi-Cal), she had already suffered liver failure due to acetaminophen poisoning, something that would not have happened had she been receiving proper care. She tried using the so-called “free” clinics, but not only was the care inadequate, but she was hounded by bill collectors for what “services” she did receive. So much for “free” clinics. Her followup care was abysmal or non-existent. The next serious episode of liver failure, the hospital dragged their heels and did not transfer her to an acute care facility in time and she developed hepatic encephalopathy. By the time she got to UCLA, it was too late. They tried desperately to save her, but she died. Why is it OK to sacrifice our most fragile citizens and at the same time provide free health care to people who have broken our immigration laws and are here illegally? If we can afford to be that magnanimous, then why can’t we extend the same humanitarianism to our own citizens? The ancient Spartans left their infirm outside the city to die. The Third Reich exterminated them in death camps along with the Jews and all the others they did not like. In this country, we just make it almost impossible for the physically frail to get adequate health care. Belinda was the daughter of Oz Bach, bass player for Spanky and Our Gang in the 60s, belindabach.com but I doubt the media will do a story on Belinda. Meanwhile the media circus over Nataline will continue. I do hope her family gets some sort of closure (if that is EVER possible with the death of a child!).
Now perhaps the rhetoric about immigrants is a bit too strong, but her gripe is as legitimate as they come. When she asked a question in July on Youtube for the Youtube presidential debate, she asked this (2 months before her daughter died at 28):
What would you do to assist medically disenfranchised to obtain access to maximum health care? By “medically disenfranchised”, I mean: those individuals who cannot obtain private insurance, who are unable to obtain coverage through an employer and do not currently qualify for any sort of assistance.
Here’s a memorial site for Belinda Bach, her daughter. A strikingly pretty woman, she was also a talented musician and artist. (Alas, her tribute site only contains clips of her music; you can download complete mp3s from her Ockham’s Razor Band page on myspace). As a musician & DJ affected by various things (notably Goth styles and club life), her writings on her myspace DJ Luna C Memorial page are both turbulent and poetic and even fatalistic, struggling with a dark side.
It’s hard to tell if that nihilism predated her sickness; but of course, nihilism is itself a kind of pose, one of many which artists adopt over time. Her music of course is more upbeat. Here’s a live videotaped performance of a bluesy song Wayfaring Stranger . After surfing through it all, I was struck most by the “Time” song in her Photomontage Memorial video. (For what it’s worth, here’s a pretty kickass playlist she put on her DJ myspace page).
Art by Belinda Bach
I am cautiously optimistic that the new election will bring small improvements to the health care system. But only one candidate seems to be raising the issue. That is John Edwards (see this relevant video clip) .
My point is this: mass media and the blogosphere have a limited attention span and an uncanny ability to ignore important stories. Then suddenly, often quite by chance, something changes and suddenly an issue is brought to centerstage (as though the issue had never previously existed). With this information, so much is ignored, overlooked, forgotten. I see this in the arts for example. I am constantly uncovering great new fiction, great new forms of artistic expression and great new music (not to mention great new videos). Very few things receive the proper amount of recognition.
In the meantime, the Ann Coulter appearances continue, and so do the Mitt Romney attack ads, as well as the latest mini-traumas involving Britney Spears/Paris Hilton/(insert minor celebrity’s name here).