From A Commentor: Medicare-Related Bleg

Commentor Aliasofwestgate:

I’m an irregular commentor here since about 2009ish, but I’ve always loved the place.

My Mom has been in and out of the hospital since November. At the moment she’s in a rehab facility nearby for physical and occupational therapy. I’m in Michigan, which has some pretty crazy Medicaid laws. But mostly the fact that I’ve been denied help with bills that should have been taken care of but was unable to due to things being pending in applying and stuff I know they outright won’t cover, and rehab facility fees for her being even a temporary resident.

There’s also the fact that Mom’s an immigrant. She may be a Permanent Resident and has been for nigh on 40 years, but I’ve been denied from pretty much any place I’ve applied to for help.

I mostly need some extra money to fund a possible hospital bed copayment (lowball estimate $500), and wheelchair bus rides to and from the facility, which is definitely not covered right now with her supplemental or Medicare. I’m planning on getting her a Rollator style walker for home, and have some equipment already in the house to be installed soon. But the walker is the one thing I’m planning on, along with the bed for sure. My very lowball estimate of $1500 should take care of the worst of it.

I’m a freelance transcriptionist myself, but the money is not that good. Especially since i’m not a professionally trained one.

I have a ko-fi at , which works something like Patreon, but not as structured.

My paypal address is

Oh, we also have a tubby, goofball minpin/JRT mix called Lady who misses Mom a lot. We know she’s coming home, but it’s gonna be a while yet.

Excellent (Horrifying) Read: “The True Dollar Cost of the Anti-Vaccine Movement”

From the reliably excellent Maryn McKenna, at Wired:

Every grave illness and death is an individual tragedy, but the cost of vaccine hesitancy also enforces a shared public toll.

Consider the ongoing measles outbreak in Washington State, which is centered in Clark County, on the Oregon border. In January, when it had racked up 26 cases, the state governor declared a public health emergency. Since then, the case count has almost tripled, to 74.

To figure out who might have been put at risk, the state health department has interviewed 4,652 people and closely monitored 812 of them. It has reassigned staff from across its divisions, borrowed public health workers from other states, sent people who would normally be at desks out into the field, performed hundreds of lab tests that would not normally be necessary. So far, it has spent $1.6 million…

The funding to support that work isn’t being conjured out of the air. It’s coming from the budgets of public agencies, which have already been facing years of cuts and have no secret stashes of discretionary money to spend.

“There are substantial public health responses that go into mitigating an outbreak, and we should pursue those, because they prevent larger outbreaks or broader social disruption,” says Saad Omer, a physician and epidemiologist at Emory University and the senior author of a recent paper on the “true cost” of measles outbreaks. “But it does result in a lot of costs that can be pretty substantial. And we don’t measure the further indirect costs to the community.”

In Washington State, those indirect costs include the other work that doesn’t get done while the outbreak proceeds. The state health department was forced to appropriate a portion of its poison control center’s work hours to handle the calls made by people worried they had been exposed to measles. In Clark County, the local health department reassigned to measles the home-visit nurses who take care of risky pregnancies, and also the investigators who track down victims of sexually transmitted diseases and foodborne illnesses…

Those costs are being paid by state governments, and by federal agencies such as the CDC that give states grants and loan them personnel. State and federal budgets are public money—which means those necessary bills for unnecessary outbreaks are being paid by all of us. The toll of illness may be confined to individuals, but the cost of responding to outbreaks related to vaccine refusal is a bill that we are all being compelled to pay.

And you know the privileged parents now telling each other, Really, it’s only measles, we all got them back in the day and *I* never had any problems will sue everyone from the suspected source to their local government to the FDA if their little darling has to so much as miss a school recital or family vacation because of a quarantine, too. Mah RIGHTS!!!

Sometimes I find myself wishing that this kind of stupidity physically hurt its possessors, and not just their victims, because that seems to be the only way to reach some people.

Voice-over: “It was true, but not in the way he thought…”

Remember during the 2016 campaign when Trump said he would get rid of the ACA and create an entirely new private insurance-based healthcare system that would result in better coverage for a lot less money? Yeah, that was bullshit.

In office, the only thing Trump has done so far is try to tinker on the margins, hector the then-Republican-controlled Congress to repeal the ACA, and regurgitate vague talking points about letting for-profit companies sell junk policies across state lines.

Well, as David noted in an earlier post, Trump’s DOJ is now lending its weight to an effort to overturn the ACA entirely, which would make everyone’s coverage crappier.

When I saw that notice yesterday, my first thought was that Trump is on a revenge tear now that he thinks he’s been vindicated by the Mueller investigation. He must have satisfaction and get all he feels he is entitled to, including the obliteration of his exponentially more competent and beloved predecessor’s signature achievement, by whatever means necessary.

That’s how miserable sons of bitches like Trump roll. There’s no enjoying the sugar high of an appointee-engineered “vindication,” no matter how many victory laps he and his loathsome spawn and toadies take on Fox News. It just makes him angrier!

Anyhoo, as Trump once noted, “Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated.” The “nobody” in question was the biggest nobody of them all — Trump himself — and he still has no fucking clue how complicated it is. Like many a know-nothing scion of a parasitic family, Trump arrogantly assumes that he can exceed the accomplishments of people who are his superiors as human beings in every conceivable way.

Well, he’s about to find out. Barring a full-throated endorsement of puppy slaying, Trump couldn’t have wrapped up a bigger cudgel nor tied a prettier bow around it as a gift to the Democratic Party and its 2020 candidates. No matter what the courts do with the ACA challenge, the Trump administration and the Republican Party now own the effort to overturn the ACA and screw every single person with healthcare coverage in the US, including seniors, middle-class families, etc.

The Republicans will be “The Party of Healthcare” alright — the party that fucks Americans out of hard-won healthcare reforms valued by just about everyone who doesn’t make a living huffing Ayn Rand’s farts.

As an angry idiot, Trump doesn’t comprehend the implications of making the party own that mess. Mitch McConnell does, presumably, and before this is over, he’ll almost certainly wish Trump had stuck to periodically kicking McCain’s corpse over the narrow defeat of the ACA repeal in the Senate and left well enough alone.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Chance Would Be A Fine Thing, Repubs

(Tom Toles via

Meanwhile, the grownups are working on real problems:

Late-Night Movies Open Thread: Scammers All the Way Down (The Theranos Grift)

I haven’t paid much attention to the Theranos scandal, because marketing a literal version of the classic Magical Money Box con to Silicon valley ‘edgelords’ hardly seemed innovative. Of course they knew it was almost certainly fraudulent, but like the medieval barons buying papal indulgences, just getting the offer was a mark of social status (to these marks.). And they figured they could always leverage it regardless, by selling the deed to a more gullible investor, or one looking to them for a favor.

(Besides, most ‘educated’ Americans know as much about medicine / medical technology as a feudal lord knew about actual Catholic theology. Throw your money in the offertory basket at Easter and Christmas, and be proud you can afford to pay for a private pew!)

Getting Henry Fekkin’ Kissinger hooked into her grift, though — that’s genuine craftsmanship. Like having the Papal nucio put his personal seal on those prettily-illuminated parchments…

A review, from Matt Zoller Seitz at

Theranos sounds like a creature of myth, and in the end, that’s what the company was. Appealing to the common fear of having blood drawn invasively in large amounts, Holmes spun an enticing pitch about building a compact, portable analysis machine named after Thomas Edison and able to perform 200 different kinds of tests quickly, using a pinprick’s worth of blood. Holmes styled herself as a Mozart-caliber wunderkind. She started her company when she was barely old enough to drink. Within a matter of years, it employed 800 people and was valued at $10 billion.

Unfortunately, Holmes’ machine couldn’t do what she promised. She wasn’t a scientist, and her own experts had warned her that it was physically impossible to build the device she’d envisioned. …
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