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Posts published in “Day: February 4, 2014”

Will you die waiting?

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

On a tribal bulletin board this week these chilling words were posted: “Due to budget issues, Contract Health Service will be on Priority One until further notice.”

Why are these words frightening? It means the underfunded local unit of the Indian Health Service is out of money on an important line item. It means that unless your illness is serious -- threatening life or limb -- you will have to wait.

Sometimes that wait can be deadly. And it’s wrong. It reflects a system that is out of balance and the consequences are life threatening to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

A couple of years ago, at a Senate hearing, a story was told about a heart attack patient who was left on a gurney with a note taped on her thigh that read: “If you admit this person, understand we're out of contract health care money. Do it at your risk.”

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is supposed to eliminate this underfunding. The complicated mechanism is designed to increase the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives with basic insurance, Medicaid, tribal insurance, or a policy from a marketplace exchange, money that then goes into the Indian health system directly. The Affordable Care Act is designed to substantially increase third-party billing, a revenue stream that does not require appropriation from Congress. And, I should add, a revenue stream that could add a couple of billion dollars to the Indian health system. Full funding ... in theory.

So what’s the problem? Why is there a bulletin board warning patients that’s there is not enough money?

The main reason is that critics of the Affordable Care Act are determined to make certain that this law is a wreck. Instead of figuring how to make it so, many so-called leaders are working overtime to tank every aspect of the act.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said it was time to “recognize reality” and “deal with the people that are currently covered under Obamacare.”

But that was then. Now three Republican senators, Richard Burr (N.C.), Tom Coburn, (Okla.), and Orrin Hatch (Utah), are launching a campaign to start the debate all over, promoting a “replacement” plan for Obamacare. That plan would make it even more difficult to fund the Indian health system. “Under our proposal, restrictions that limit the ability for veterans, service members, and individuals receiving care through the Indian Health Service would be removed in order to ensure that these individuals also have the ability to benefit from health savings accounts in managing their health care needs and expenses,” according to the plan. (more…)

On the front pages

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Crane says financial controls improved (Boise Statesman)
Gay rights demonstrators arrested (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Deaths of owls along I-84 (Boise Statesman)
Guns on campus opposed (Lewiston Tribune, Nampa Press Tribune, Pocatello Journal, Sandpoint Bee)
What's 'local' in farmers market? (Moscow News)
Twin Falls blocks lease for canyon jump (TF Times News, Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello bird die-off mysterious (Pocatello Tribune)
Ammonium nitrate spill studied (Sandpoint Bee)
Halverson, former sheriff, re-jailed (TF Times News)

Civic stadium may go to city (Eugene Register Guard)
Willamette fish delisted from endangered (Eugene Register Guard)
Rainfall near KF 15% of normal (KF Health & News)
3/4 of county dogs aren't licensed (KF Herald & News)
Ashland reconsiders gun rules (Ashland Tidings)
Medford teacher negotiations going public (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Harry & David sales improve (Ashland Tidings)
Good bond rating for Pendleton school bond (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Legislature's gun debate begins (Portland Oregonian)
Patent trolling targeted in legislation (Portland Oregonian)
Trader Joe's drops NE Portland plan (Portland Oregonian)
Debate over SEIU local sm merger (Salem Statesman Journal)
DeFazio wants hearing on drought (Salem Statesman Journal)
Oregon Legislature opens (Salem Statesman Journal)

College business degree response (Bremerton Sun)
Road widening at Belfair (Bremerton Sun)
Senior snared in gambling prohibition (Everett Herald)
Costly sewer repairs ahead (Everett Herald)
USDA will buy grapes to raise prices (Kennewick Herald)
Super Bowl win celebrated (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Kennewick Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Port Angeles News, Longview News)
Many speeding tickets at school (Longview News)
Casino pays gambling tax to Longview (Longview News)
Bowing 787 errors corrected (Seattle Times)
Gay rights protesters at Boise (Spokane Spokesman)
State bill seeks to block NSA spying (Yakima Herald Republic)