Medicaid cuts shut only public outpatient oncology ward in NV.
April 6, 2009 8:53 AM Subscribe
"We're a demonstration project, if you would, of all the things that can go wrong at once." "You know Yolanda, I think most people watching this interview think to themselves that if they get cancer and they don't have health insurance that somebody’s going to take care of them," Pelley remarked.
"No, no, there's nobody to take care of you," she said.
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On December 31, 2008, University Medical Center of Las Vegas--the only public hospital in the state of Nevada--suspended its outpatient oncology care program. Among the 2000 existing patients left to find care elsewhere are the uninsured
Working poor or middle class patients--the majority of the nation's uninsured
--have the option, of course, of exhausting their assets until they are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or Clark County medical assistance. However, these programs don't cover full costs and are only helpful if you can find a doctor who accepts them:
Roy Scales has been calling the private doctors from the list University Medical Center sent with its letter. He has been searching for someone who will accept payment from the county's medical assistance for the poor program, which he calls insurance. It has been five months since he was diagnosed.
He told Pelley he called at least 25 doctors and oncology practices trying to find care.
Asked what they told him, Scales said, "'What about that insurance? Well, we don't accept that insurance.'"
"What are you going to do if you can't find a doctor to take care of you?" Pelley asked.
"Die peacefully," Scales said.
One local oncologist has turned a storage room into a charity clinic serving 23 of those left without care.
Meanwhile, in France, cancer patients have 100% of their bills covered and guaranteed access to any drug necessary, and an emphasis on early detection/treatment leading to a survival rate that is the envy of Western Europe
-- as part of a nationalized health care program
that costs half of what the US spends per year on health care. (More stories in this series, from NPR, on the pros and cons of universal health care programs across Western Europe.