Tag: anti-eugenics

They Tried To Kill My Brother. Insurance Companies Will Always Put Profits Before Human Life

So this is basically how I feel about the insurance industry.

In this scene in The Princess Bride, the legendary phrase is uttered My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.
In this scene in The Princess Bride, the legendary phrase is uttered "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

“…You tried to kill my brother.  Prepare to die.”

Years ago, an insurance company did indeed try to kill my younger brother Jamie.

The story is basically this: my brother was born with the same disease I have. As soon as he was born, mom signed him up to the company insurance plan.

Then when Jamie got sick, very sick, the company (Connecticut General / CIGNA) refused to pay, saying he was not signed up with them. When pressed for why Jamie was listed in their computer, they suggested mom must have illegally trespassed and entered him in there—absurd–and they had no evidence at all.

Photo of baby Jamie at four months old</b>

They wanted to unplug hospital care for baby Jamie.

So we took them to court to enforce the contract (under ERISA, whether someone is enrolled or not is one of the few things the government allows you to sue their insurance buddies over; you can’t sue over a denied claim). Essentially, Connecticut General / CIGNA signed a contract, then wanted to weasel out when they realized  it may cause them losses. Money mattered more to them than a beautiful baby.  This was in the mid-1980s, at the height of Reaganism and Gordon Gecko-style greed.

My brother Jamie, a few years ago

We won.  As you can see from the above photograph, Jamie is still alive, despite the company’s years of fighting to end his medical care.

The “Jackpot justice” meme is greatly exaggerated.   We came out with a net monetary loss, as my family got buried in legal fees for years.

This lengthy battle was really traumatic for my family.  As a result, from a young age, I’ve distrusted corporations big-time.  They will always put profits ahead of human lives (they have a responsibility to their shareholders to do so) whether it’s dumping pollution, letting unclean peanut plants fester in order to save money, or denying a liver transplant and killing a girl to save money.  The bottom line is the bottom line.

Several months ago, I overheard two doctors here at the hospital talking about a patient who recently had valve replacement surgery, and against the doctors’ strenuous objections, his HMO put him (a new cardiac rehab patient!)  in the C building (nursing home) where they don’t even have oxygen, because it was the cheapest available option.  Of course, his death would be the ultimate cost-saver.

A few years back, my mom’s spine worsened to the point that she required surgery and can no longer sit in chairs for long or walk for extended periods.   Of course, the disability insurance she had paid into for decades denied she was disabled, and cut her off.  You pay into insurance, but the companies all have a legal responsibility to their shareholders to limit outlays (i.e. shaft you) and maximize return on investment.  Mom eventually got a lawyer and challenged the decision, but after legal costs, she got much less than if the company had simply honored its original agreement.

I cringe as during the current health care debate, so many politicians get up and defend this awful, immoral system as their sacred cow.  I see nothing worth saving.


Saving Emilio

Should the state be allowed to pull the plug on your family without your consent?

This is a scary question that’s getting more and more attention lately, as states and hospital corporations are increasingly looking to cut costs and unplug people they deem “futile.”

It’s downright Nazi-istic, and we are called to fight this every step of the way.

Texas is a state that has been particularly loathsome in this area. They have a law (signed by allegedly “pro-life” governor of Texas, George W. Bush) called the “Futile Care Law,” which takes the individual liberty away from the family, and allows hospital corporations to unplug you (against the wishes of the family) if they deem you “futile.” This is way too much power in the hands of corporations, and it strips life-and-death decisions from the family in order to kill people and free up hospital resources.

In an unprecedented perversion of American tradition, Texas is saying “Take my liberty, and give me death!”

Monday I signed an affidavit affirming the dignity of those on life support and had it notarized and faxed. That’s where I’ve been….

Here is the press release on this case:

March 20, 2007

Contacts: Diane Coleman & Stephen Drake
(708)209-1500, exts. 11 & 29; 708-420-0539 (cell)
Bob Kafka
512-431-4085 (cell)

National Disability Group Supports Efforts to Save Emilio Gonzalez
Activist Nick Dupree provides affidavit about the dignity of life as a ventilator user

Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group, is strongly supporting efforts to save the life of Emilio Gonzales, a seriously ill infant whose life may end on Friday, March 20 under the infamous Texas “futility law.”

The Texas chapter of Not Dead Yet has been part of the effort to overturn the current draconian “futility” statute in Texas – an effort that has been effectively stonewalled by the special interests of medical facilities, medical professionals and bioethicists.

Unfortunately, reversing the latest implementation of this statute can’t wait for a change in the law. Emilio Gonzales, who is 16 months old, will die next week when the Children’s Hospital of Austin removes him from a ventilator.

Attorney Jerri Ward, representing Emilio’s mother Catarina Gonzales, is moving on multiple legal fronts to prevent the implementation of the impending death sentence. Today, she filed for a Temporary Restraining Order against the hospital to prevent the planned removal of Emilio’s
ventilator. She has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights and has claimed that the hospital’s actions represent unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to news reports, Emilio’s use of a ventilator lacks “dignity” and merely “prolongs death,” according to the ethics committee at Children’s Hospital.

A powerful affidavit submitted by disability activist Nick Dupree contests those characterizations of life on a ventilator. 26-year-old Dupree has been on a ventilator since he was 13 years old.

“I do not consider living with a ventilator a burden that makes my life unworthy of being lived. I do not, and have never, considered it an assault on my human dignity and person,” says Dupree in his affidavit. Dupree also writes about his brother Jamie. Doctors wanted to “give up” on
Jamie when he was 12 months old and intubated. Due to his mother’s insistence, Jamie was given a tracheostomy and sent home on a ventilator. Jamie is 22 years old now.

It’s a good thing there were no “futility laws” enabling doctors to overrule Jamie’s mother when he was 12 months old.

Not Dead Yet opposes futility laws as an unconstitutional denial of due process, purportedly authorizing state sponsored medical killing. “We need to get rid of the futility law threatening the life of Emilio Gonzales and others like him in Texas,” said Diane Coleman, president of the
group. “Any theory that the ethics committee procedure satisfies due process requirements is ludicrous.”


UPDATE: the hospital has granted a stay of execution until April 10.
Read more here.

That we fight for those on the margins is incredibly important, more important than I can adequately put into words.