Today’s articles in the New York Times, and discussions with our clients over the past week that have resulted in tears regarding the lack of access to appropriate health care, has prompted me to write this blog post. The headlines read: As Hospital Prices Soar, A Single Stitch Tops $500.00: Huge Emergency Bills Shock Patients and Reflect System with Few Controls. (New York Times, December 3, 2013); A New Wave of Challenges to Health Care Law. (New York Times, December 3, 2013).
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you are probably aware that certain people are opposed to the Affordable Care Act (A.C.A.) or Obama Care. This has more than baffled me over the months and years that this controversy has played out in Congress and in the media. In my office, I represent families and children with disabilities. Many, if not most of these families, have spent every cent they have on securing appropriate interventions for their children. Some have lost their homes and retirement savings. The worst stories in our office are of those who have lost their children. Sadly, the ability to secure appropriate scientific based interventions for children and young adults is a luxury afforded the wealthy in this country. This surely can’t be the America I believe in that would deny access to good quality care to everyone but the affluent. Living and getting well shouldn’t be foreclosed to all but a select few.
The tragedy isn’t simply economic. Many children and adolescents will die or their lives will be forever damaged because they cannot access health care and interventions available to those with money who can privately pay for this care. This is especially problematic in the areas of mental health and addiction treatment which has been mostly unavailable or very limited even to those with health insurance. Yes, there have been gains. Some children with autism can now receive Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) covered by insurance in Illinois.* Still many cannot because their parents employers refuse to cover this service. Mental health treatment is in a dark place where parents cannot find psychiatrists or pay for medication that would help their children.
Sitting across a table counseling parents about interventions and services available is often very hard. It is much easier when a family can afford the proper treatment. Our goal is to help to secure services for families, primarily from school districts and other government agencies. While school are an important linkage in the intervention chain for children with disabilities, they are only a part of the solution. Access to health care, including mental health care is essential. For those who oppose access to health care, regrettably will have blood on their hands, since surely people will die as a result of their efforts to deny this access.
It is unthinkable to me that anyone regardless of party affiliation, can stand for anything less than full health care coverage for all Americans. It is not a luxury to have access to health care-it is a moral imperative.
*ABA is a research based intervention that has been proven effective as an intervention for children on the autism spectrum.Share on Facebook