Elderly, disabled losing protection
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I am deeply saddened by the current situation of the elderly and disabled citizens of our state. Over the last 40 years, numerous valuable programs were created to meet the needs of our most vulnerable adult residents. The programs gave adults who cannot care for themselves the means to meet their basic needs, the best possible quality of life, the opportunity to live in the least restrictive environment and the ability to retain some sense of dignity. Now, all of this is changing.
In recent months, the reduction in services, including the Aged and Disabled Waiver, has caused our elderly, disabled and sickest residents to be deprived of the support, care and assistance they so desperately need to remain safely and effectively in their homes. Many such residents have died or had to go to nursing homes while they waited for help. Some of them have no family or support systems that can provide the needed care as they wait for the state to recognize and remedy their plight. They cannot wait any longer.
In reviewing this horrible situation, it is evident those state officials who are allowing the lack of services to continue are actually, according to Chapter 9 of the state code, guilty of abuse and neglect of adults who are physically and/or mentally incapacitated and unable to protect themselves. They are also in violation of the Human Rights Act, which mandates that all citizens, especially the most vulnerable, have the right to meet their basis needs in a safe environment.
How can we, as a state, overlook and ignore this situation? The Aged and Disabled Waiver Program alone has more than 2,000 people, with severe illnesses and disabilities, who are waiting for help. Failure to recognize and remedy this dire situation, by our governor, the Legislature and DHHR means those affected are being abandoned to experience slow, painful deaths. Our state leaders need to realize this situation not only affects other people, but also impacts them, personally and directly, at some point. None of us are going to live forever. We do not know what illnesses, infirmities or limitations we, or members of our families, will face in the future.
Martha J. Scott Hager
Beware billing by medical industry
For the past two years I have had the somewhat dubious distinction of dealing with a cross-section of doctors and medical institutions and their business operations. I come away convinced that every medical school should have a mandatory class of at least six semester hours of office setup, office management and billing practices.
One of my most memorable experiences began when I received a bill for "virtual radiology" from Wisconsin; from a state I have never been in, from a company I had never heard of and for a service I knew nothing about. The next letter I received was from a collection agency in California. After a few letter exchanges they sent a form for me to send to my insurance company for them to be paid. Of course, I returned their form and suggested that if a hospital had purchased their service they should be communicating with that hospital for whatever they were trying to get from me. That was the end of our discussion about "virtual radiology."
One of the more common scams that I have experienced in dealing with hospitals is getting a bill listing total charged, amount paid and amount you owe without any consideration of insurance plans or anything else. Just a straight unsophisticated money grab. It makes one wonder if the billing clerks actually get a cut.
I suspect I will be dealing with more health service agencies over the next few years. It will be interesting to see how sophisticated or unsophisticated the scams will be. Universal health services, a single-payer system, looks better each day.