He Said No To Obamacare -- And Now He's Going Blind
Credit: heraldonline.com
May 12, 2015

So he's a South Carolina conservative and heavy smoker who hasn't done anything to control his diabetes, and now he's pissed off that he can't get the Obamacare he didn't want. Yes, folks, another example from the Party of Personal Responsibility!

Lang, a 49-year-old resident of Fort Mill, has bleeding in his eyes and a partially detached retina caused by diabetes.“He will lose his eyesight if he doesn’t get care. He will go blind,” said Dr. Malcolm Edwards, the Lancaster ophthalmologist who examined Lang.

Lang is a self-employed handyman who works with banks and the federal government on maintaining foreclosed properties. He has done well enough that his wife, Mary, hasn’t had to work. They live in a 3,300-square-foot home in the Legacy Park subdivision valued at more than $300,000.

But he has never bought insurance. Instead, he says, he prided himself on paying his own medical bills.That worked while he and his wife were relatively healthy. But after 10 days of an unrelenting headache, Lang went to the emergency room on Feb. 25. He says he was told he’d suffered several mini-strokes. He ran up $9,000 in bills and exhausted his savings. Meanwhile, his vision worsened and he can’t work, he says.

That’s when he turned to the Affordable Care Act exchange. Lang learned two things: First, 2015 enrollment had closed earlier that month. And second, because his income has dried up, he earns too little to get a federal subsidy to buy a private policy.

Lang, a Republican, says he knew the act required him to get coverage but he chose not to do so. But he thought help would be available in an emergency. He and his wife blame President Obama and Congressional Democrats for passing a complex and flawed bill.

Yep, it's all Obama's fault that Republicans insisted on making sure everyone had "skin in the game." Not too swift, this guy.

“(My husband) should be at the front of the line because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues,” Mary Lang said last week. “We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.”

Oh, Mary, Mary, Mary. You voted for Republicans, and now that they've taken over your state and turned it into a petri dish for ALEC's policies, your husband can't even get Medicaid -- because your wingnut governor wouldn't sign up for the expansion. Woe is you.

Anyone who’s remotely familiar with insurance knows there’s no system that lets people skip payments while they’re healthy and cash in when they get sick. Public systems tax everyone. Private ones rely on the premiums of the well to cover the costs of those who are ailing.

And Democrats might point out that the ACA was designed to cover people whose income falls below the poverty line through Medicaid. The federal government pays 100 percent of the ACA expansion to cover low-income, able-bodied adults, but 21 Republican-led states, including North and South Carolina, declined to participate.

For now, Lang qualifies only for a South Carolina Medicaid plan that covers checkups and family planning. The aged (65 and older), blind and disabled get more extensive coverage. Lang says he hasn’t applied for Social Security disability benefits because it takes too long.

Yep. Because your party kept insisting people who got disability were freeloaders, and created many more hoops through which to jump!

The S.C. Department of Health and Human Services is still reviewing whether he might qualify through a vocational rehabilitation program. If so – and if he can find a surgeon who takes Medicaid – South Carolina taxpayers will share the cost with the federal government.

Last week Lang went back to Dr. Edwards, who had previously provided injections to control the bleeding in his eyes at a discounted rate. That’s when he learned that his problem had worsened, including the detached retina.

“He’s in a very bad situation,” Edwards said after Lang signed a privacy release. “The longer he waits, the poorer his results will be.”

Edwards said he would provide care at no cost, but Lang now requires surgery and follow-up treatment that is beyond his expertise. His Eye & Laser Center has a network of specialists who work on a sliding scale and organizations that sometimes help with donations. But Lang requires such extensive and ongoing work that there’s no way to guarantee there won’t be significant bills, Edwards said.

Lang says he has called charities that work with diabetes and blindness, but he doesn’t seem to fit anyone’s cause. “I’m either too young or too old,” said Lang, who has launched a GoFundMe.compage in hopes of garnering donations. He has put out fliers and called various news outlets, but as of Monday he had nothing.

There’s a lot of talk about personal responsibility in health care reform, so it’s probably fair to note that Lang is a smoker who has, by his own account, been inconsistent in his efforts to control his diabetes. Edwards says it’s not uncommon to see patients who don’t take the treatment regimen seriously until they’re facing major problems. Bleeding in the blood vessels of the eyes often foretells similar problems with the kidneys and feet, he said.

How many times does this have to happen before conservatives learn to connect the dots? Probably to eternity.

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