Friday, November 19, 2004

Lauren Rainey Update

Hopefully you all remember Lauren Rainey, the girl whose life-saving home health care is being threatened by a ridiculous and wrong ruling by their Medicaid agency.

Alabama's Medical Director says Lauren is losing her care because based on medical records her condition is not worsening.

Her doctors insist she could die if her condition was to worsen further. "I think if she were to get the flu, it would be very difficult to help her through that. If she were to catch pneumonia, it would be very difficult to help her through that. So the likelihood she could die is very high." said Dr. Lawrence Sindel.

Shelley-Tremblay said, "We're trying to get a clear picture of what Lauren's case means both to Lauren and her family but also to the state of Alabama as a whole and in general what it means about the state of Medicaid." adding, "all of us are interested in policy change that is going to help improve the care of the people who need care."

But Alabama Governor Bob Riley saw the story differently, "Because I think to a large extent what you've done is frighten a child, sent the wrong message to the community that the state is not being as responsive as it can be because there are a variety of different programs and I think if we all had taken the opportunity to sit down and explore all the other options we wouldn't even be having this conversation."

When asked if he knew what those other programs are, the Governor responded, "No, but I can find out and let you know."

Lauren's mom did check with Medicaid about those other programs. "The only thing she qualifies for is house keeping and the girl comes in 3 hours twice a week and that's not helping me. I don't need a housekeeper I need a nurse there that can take care of her." said Lauren's mother.

Nick Dupree of Nick's (victorious) Crusade and now Nick's Blog writes in:

The Governor of Alabama has responded, and basically said, "there are other programs for Lauren. We just can't name them or prove they exist. How dare you not highlight our wonderful, non-existant program!"

It's not true. They tried raising phantom alternatives in my case too, to provide some cover for their dispicable actions. Don't buy it. Mary Finch, Medicaid spokeswoman and public policy liason, is employing a much more aggressive PR strategy this time, circulating a talking points memo claiming there are other (as yet unnamed) programs for Lauren and accusing WPMI TV of misrepresenting the facts to gain national attention.

It's a lie.

There is no program for people like Lauren, and last year a friend of mine, Chris, died after losing care under the EPSDT program.
There are currently only 28 people state-wide getting care hours under EPSDT. This came from a decade-long purging of EPSDT. No one wants to talk about how we got to this point, but in 1997 there were well over 28 people getting care hours under EPSDT in THE MOBILE AREA ALONE found during my mom's advocacy in the '97 crisis (the Medicaid commissioner of that time tried to end the nursing care program altogether). The state is legally obligated to provide nursing care for citizens under age 21 under the EPSDT program. Alabama is trying to shirk its responsibility under the law and has successfully cut it down to 28 people state-wide. We went from over 28 in Mobile area to 28 state-wide. Now the few survivors of the purge are in the crosshairs.

You can contact the governor's office and ask him why he's lying to this girl:

State Capitol
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
Switchboard: 334-242-7100
Fax: 334-353-0004

*Email the Governor's Office*