You probably know someone with Type 1 diabetes — that’s the kind you treat with insulin. Somewhere between 1.25 and three million Americans have it, and about 15-20% of these are children.
Bella Nichols, age 8, is one of these children. To stay alive, she requires insulin that costs more per month than her family’s mortgage payment. Her mother, Nicole, was having a hard time getting Mississippi Medicaid to pay for her daughter’s essential diabetes treatment supplies, which are supposed to be covered, and which cost around $2,500 a month; so, like a reasonable citizen, she wrote to her state reps for help. She wrote:
We have recently begun having a lot of problems with Medicaid/CHIPS coverage of the essential diabetes supplies needed, not only to keep our kids healthy, but to literally keep them alive…No parents should have to fight for so long for their child’s essential medical supplies and medical needs when it’s explicitly stated as a covered benefit.
Three of the representatives responded. One of them, Rep. Jeffrey Guice, said this:
I am sorry for your problem. Have you thought about buying the supplies with money that you earn?
That was his whole response.
There are three reasons he might respond in such a way.
First: He thinks that only lazy, shiftless, irresponsible people are on Medicaid. (Actually, most welfare recipients, including but not limited to those who receive Medicaid, are in households headed by a working adult.)
Second: He thinks state insurance should refuse to pay for life-saving medical supplies, because the high cost of medicine works nicely as a kind of man-made natural selection, weeding out the unfit in the name of fiscal responsibility. (If you think no one would dare espouse such a brutal worldview, go ahead and read the comments section. I dare you.)
Third: He thinks it should be easy to pay for diabetes supplies out of pocket, either because he has no idea how much money the typical family earns, or because he has no idea how much diabetes supplies cost. Either one is completely unacceptable for a state rep whose entire job is to know, understand, and work for the people he represents.
Oh, did I mention? Guice is on the State Public Health And Human Services Committee. I’ll just let the irony of that title sink in for a moment. Public Health! and Human Services! Maybe he stumbled into the wrong room, and he actually intended to join a different committee, say the Darwinian Inhumane Kommissariat for Handily Eliminating Deadweights. In fact, I nominate him as chairman for life of DIKHED.
Yesterday, after social media got wind of his response to Nichols, Guice apologized:
“I realize my remarks to Mrs. Nichols were completely insensitive and out of line,” said Guice. “I am sorry and deeply regret my reply. I know nothing about her and her family and replied in a knee-jerk fashion. I’d like to think the people of Mississippi and my constituents know that I’m willing to help where I am able.”
Uh uh. I’d like to think that today is Guice’s last day on a job for which he’s manifestly unfit. The “help” he claims to be willing to offer is only his to offer because his power comes from his constituents, who have every right to ask for his help getting the benefits they’re legally entitled to. I can’t imagine what else he thinks he is there for, unless it’s to sit back and enjoy the excellent health insurance he gets through the state.
Someone’s the leech here. Someone’s exploiting taxpayer-funded benefits, someone’s refusing to pull his weight, and someone doesn’t want to live up to his responsibilities, but I don’t think it’s the eight-year-old with diabetes. If you want to see an unscrupulous citizens collecting government benefits and refusing to do an honest day’s work, take a look at the house of representatives in Mississippi.
leech image: Veronidae (Wikimedia Commons)