Oct 10, 2007

On Graeme Frost, the wingnuts and the moonbats

The issue is being demagogued to death. You already knew that, but allow me to stick my oar in.

I really hate the whole out-of-the-mouths-of-babes schtick. I, for one, am not in the habit of consulting 12-year-olds before making major decisions. I don't care how cute and tow-headed the kid is, I'm simply not interested in his opinion on the issues of the day.

Using a kid to score political points is low, no matter how you slice or dice it. It can also backfire, badly.

Also, the use of Graeme Frost as the SCHIP pinup boy was misleading: Graeme was covered under the plan--whether you agree he should be or not. The issue was never that Graeme was going to lose his coverage, but that's what the Democrats implied when they trotted him out to speak on their behalf. No one, not George Bush or any of the other cold-hearted Republican bastards in Congress, has suggested that SCHIP coverage should be cut back. The issue on the table is whether it should be expanded.

Having said that, it's perfectly legitimate to question whether families like the Frosts should be covered. This does not mean that the people who ask such questions are amoral wingnuts who would shoot Bambi if given half the chance. Although remarks like "Let 'em twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens" are more than a little harsh.

For the record, I agree with my favorite venom-spewing wingnut and I would not deny care to the Frost children. I also wouldn't require the Frosts to sell all their assets in order to pay for their children's treatment. It doesn't make sense to force a family into poverty to pay for their medical bills.

But was there ever any danger that they would be denied treatment?

Hospitals that receive federal funds are prohibited by law from denying emergency treatment to patients who can't pay. So when the Graeme children were brought in after the 2004 automobile accident that led to this debate, there was never any danger that they would be turned away. True, the hospital may have gone after the Frosts for payment later, but that's another issue.

Also, isn't the Frost's car insurance policy supposed to pay for medical bills incurred during an accident? Health care insurance in Maryland may not be mandatory, but car insurance sure is. And what's the point of having such a policy if it doesn't cover medical expenses?

I may be wrong, but the car insurance angle seems to me to be the one angle no one has covered in this story. From what I can gather, a car insurance company can subtract medical costs for which the patient is NOT out of pocket when it pays for medical expenses related to an accident. But it seems as though the insurance company and not SCHIP should have footed the bill for these medical expenses and not the state. Is this a loophole in SCHIP? Can the state go after the auto insurance company to recoup it's costs? Did the Frosts contact their auto insurer in regard to their medical bills?

Every time the so-called healthcare crisis is discussed, someone brings up the bogeyman of the preexisting condition. It is said the Graeme's can't get insurance because of such a condition. But having a preexisting condition doesn't you'll never be eligible for insurance. the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act puts a time limit on non-coverage of preexisting conditions for those eligible for group insurance. And even then, you can be accepted for insurance and receive coverage for healthcare costs unrelated to the preexisting condition. True, private insurers can turn down people for preexisting conditions, but the Frosts own their own business and HIPAA "guarantee[s] availability of health insurance coverage for small employers and renewability of health insurance coverage for both small and large employers."

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