Lack of Medicaid expansion in the state of Mississippi may kill my son-in-law. Neither he nor my daughter now have medical insurance, and they are ineligible for Medicaid because MS didn’t expand it. Their income doesn’t even qualify for Obamacare. So how did this happen? (More)

Late last October, my son-in-law was diagnosed with renal failure, or chronic kidney disease (CKD). He still had 50% function, and by slowing progression of his disease we were hopeful he would have many good years left.

But all those doctor visits apparently raised alarm bells somewhere. He was fired in January, despite not having missed any hours in his job as a reporter, despite having brought five awards to his newspaper in just the past year and another one this year received right after he was fired. While no reason was given, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what we all thought was behind it. An insurance company isn’t blind to charges for a nephrologist, or a kidney scan, or any of the rest of it.

For six months, his mother savaged her savings to pay for COBRA for him. She can’t do that anymore. He’s been unable to find employment (20 years as a print journalist gets you all the excuses, like being overqualified or in the wrong field). He’s not well enough to work any job that requires him to be on his feet for extended periods (he tried). So now he and my daughter are living on her graduate school loans and help from family members. She seeks work as well, but you know, that masters in urban and regional planning (with a 4.0) hasn’t done her a lot of favors, at least not yet. As a result, she’s now working on her Ph.D.

So last week his nephrologist called, and told him to come in on today, Tuesday. That’s not standard fare. It usually takes three months to get an appointment with this doctor. But she did do blood tests on him at the end of August, before his COBRA ran out. You can imagine what we’re fearing.

So the other morning, my daughter asked me what was going to happen if he’s sicker. “They won’t just let him die, will they?”

I didn’t say so, but yes, they’ll let him deteriorate until he needs dialysis. Then Medicare should step in, but until then he’s joining the millions of Americans in 24 states that have refused Medicaid expansion, many of whom have life threatening illnesses that can’t be treated. If any taxpayers think they are saving money by this, think again. When my son-in-law goes critical, taxpayers will be picking up a tab of approximately $80K/month to pay for dialysis. This is the “savings” these Republican governors are giving their states rather than trying to keep people healthier.

It’s a waste of life, a waste of resources, and a waste of money to do it this way.

But most of all, it’s people asking, “They won’t just let him die, will they?”

Well, will we?

Update: On October 1, my son-in-law is going into surgery to have a dialysis port installed.
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Photo Credit: Mississippi Left Me Out