Don’t let bu­reau­crats run health care

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

ED­I­TOR, TIMES-DIS­PATCH:

I have read with in­ter­est those who sub­scribe to the no­tion that sin­gle-payer (or Medi­care for all) is the way to deal with health care is­sues. I could not dis­agree more.

My wife is an ovar­ian can­cer sur­vivor. At­ten­dant to her surgery, lymph nodes were re­moved to en­sure no can­cer cells spread. Thank­fully, the can­cer did not spread, but the re­moval of lymph nodes caused a cat­a­strophic col­lapse of her lym­phatic sys­tem in her right leg, re­sult­ing in lym­phedema. This re­sulted in phys­i­cal and men­tal trauma.

We found a world-renowned sur­geon who was suc­cess­ful in treat­ing the con­di­tion, and her leg is now nor­mal size. This re­quired 11 ma­jor surg­eries, the first nine of which were cov­ered by her pri­vate in­sur­ance. How­ever, since she aged into Medi­care, the last two were de­nied by Medi­care as not nec­es­sary and ex­per­i­men­tal. We were forced to fund the last two surg­eries at our cost. The sur­geon’s bill and the hos­pi­tal charges reached six fig­ures.

I de­cided to ap­peal the er­ro­neous Medi­care de­ci­sion and ran into many bu­reau­cratic hur­dles. I re­quested help from our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner were of no as­sis­tance at all. Rep. Dave Brat, how­ever, took a per­sonal in­ter­est in help­ing us and af­ter 18 months we se­cured ap­proval from Medi­care for the surg­eries. We are now await­ing fi­nal pric­ing for re­im­burse­ment.

Re­gret­tably, ini­tial pric­ing is pegged at $452 for the $82,500 sur­geon’s bill, less than for a root canal. I am ap­peal­ing this ridicu­lous de­ci­sion and with the help of Brat, I’m op­ti­mistic we will pre­vail. No word yet on the hos­pi­tal billing.

Let­ting un­elected bu­reau­crats run your health care is some­thing no one should want. Be­liev­ing Democrats will look out for you is a mis­take. JOEL S. LEWIS. HEN­RICO.

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