The story of Eric is a sad story to be sure. In the email I received this morning from his sister Veronica De La Cruz.
Diagnosed with Severe Dilated Cardiomyopathy five years ago and in need of a heart transplant, my brother Eric passed away far too early this July 4th.
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Ms. De La Cruz was a speaker at Harry Reid’s ‘private’ Town Hall Meeting.
Her brother was 22 years old when he was diagnosed with a condition that weakens the heart muscle. After five years of fighting to get coverage, it took intervention from Reid and others to help get Eric in line for a transplant.
By the time he qualified for coverage and found a California hospital willing and able to do the procedure, it was too late.
“Eric died because he couldn’t get insurance coverage,” she said, calling on the audience to support reforms that would include having the government step in to provide more coverage or requiring private companies to do so. “We are on the brink of creating a system where basic health care is a right.”
This is going to sound heartless and it’s in no way meant to. Eric was not let down by the insurance industry, he was let down by the Social Security and Nevada State Medicaid systems.
You see, Nevada Medicaid Program only covers heart transplants up to the age of 20 years old. If you are older than 20 – sorry. According to the NY Times.
Ben Kieckhefer, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, defended that policy. “All insurance plans decide what things they are going to cover and what things they are not going to cover,” he said. “Everyone in the state Medicaid program recognized the difficult situation the family was in, but we can’t just start covering something for one individual case.”
Ms. De La Cruz says a surgeon told her he could have helped her brother, but he arrived “two years too late.” If not for all the delays and denials, she says, her brother would be alive today.
What happened to Eric De La Cruz should not have happened, no doubt. However, Ms. De La Cruz how could you stomach standing on stage next to Harry Reid the man that is responsible to oversee the Nevada Medicaid Program that was responsible for the delays that caused your brothers death?
Harry Reid is disingenuous when he speaks of health care reform as Nevada is one of the only 18 States that DO NOT offer a State high risk pool for those people like Eric that need help. How can he stand next to this woman and try to take credit for trying to help after years of suffering that were caused by his State policies. Harry Reid is trying to exploit this man when in fact it was he and his policies that assisted with this young mans death. It’s disgusting.
Again, the case of Eric is heartbreaking and I am in no way minimizing the impact or pain of this family. However, Eric had the option of trying to seek assistance from another state (California) if this health care reform goes through across the United States – where would Eric have gone to seek help?