Uninsured And Black Plus Ebola Equals Death Sentence
It's Time To Ask Why?
October 8, 2014

How come no one on the Sunday shows asked about Rick Perry's culpability in this latest Ebola misstep in Dallas? More than a fifth of all people in the coverage gap live in Texas. If Thomas Eric Duncan had walked into a different hospital in a state that didn't reject the Medicaid Expansion, he may just be alive today.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, still can’t explain exactly how medical staff let the 42-year-old Liberian national go home with useless antibiotics. Instead of providing care, this hospital and the tragic mistake probably killed him.

Since the EMTALA law was passed under Reagan, it is unlawful to release a patient who is sick if they're uninsured. So questions about this whole episode in Dallas should be asked. The Root Magazine explains,

Now experts wonder if Duncan was turned away like many uninsured people of color who are routinely dismissed by hospitals because of lack of coverage—and lack of cultural sensitivity. It’s in stark contrast with the action of a hospital in the Washington, D.C., area, such as Howard University, which immediately placed an ill patient traveling from West Africa in isolation. The difference may be that certain medical campuses, like Howard, are used to treating low-income, uninsured and foreign populations of color.

We may never know if Duncan was uninsured, but we know someone screwed up royally at that hospital on September 24 when they sent the sick man home.

In Dallas County, low-income and uninsured residents can typically turn to the publicly funded safety-net hospital known as Parkland. But, aware that an overwhelmed Parkland is suffering from budget cuts and staffing layoffs, many will opt for other locations such as Texas Health Presbyterian.

Maybe if Thomas Duncan opted for Parkland, who is more accustomed to treating low-income, immigrant patients, the red flag that should have gone up may have been raised. But we'll never know.

The fact that medical care is such a for-profit business, it is very likely that black, uninsured patients are likely given inferior care. In fact,

the black uninsured rate in Texas is in critical condition. Even though the state’s population is 12 percent black, the rate of nonelderly uninsured African Americans is 23 percent, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation disparities study.

Perhaps this Ebola tragedy will open people's eyes to get the Single-Payer conversation going. No one should ever needlessly die because they are too poor to pay to save their lives.

Afterthought 10/21/14
The news came out after this article was published that Duncan was, as suspected, uninsured. Not once has Rick Perry's name surfaced when various right wing media outlets discuss Duncan's tragic death. Texas' proclivity for circumventing regulations, like the exploding fertilizer plant, have dire consequences. The Libertarian utopia known as The Lone Star State now demands help from the federal government it generally abhors. They didn't even say please, they just blamed President Obama. Typical Texas!

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