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Letters for March 16, 2006

• Future residents send blessings from New York

• Sympathy from California

• Medical insurance mess

Future residents send blessings from New York

I just wanted to write and express my concern for those who were affected by the dam collapse. My prayers are with all those whose homes were lost or damaged and most importantly those who may have lost loved ones.

My wife and I will be moving to Kaua’i in July and have a great and deep love for the land and the people. Much love and blessings.

  • Frederick Kuhne
    Albany, New York

Sympathy from California

Here in California, I enjoy reading all your Letters to the Editor; appreciate your taking time to write. Yesterday, we learned of the awful rain damage and flooding. We sincerely express sorrow for your loss of life, and pray for your safety and quick return to normal.

  • Helen M. (Kerns) Egy
    San Jose, Calif.

Medical insurance mess

NO American should have to live without medical insurance. But hundreds of thousands of the citizens of one of the wealthiest nations on Earth do. And hundreds and thousands needlessly continue to suffer, or even die, from conditions that may have been prevented or treated if they simply had access to medical assistance.

The state of Hawai’i boasts about being the only state with the employer mandate (that employers are required to provide medical insurance to full-time employees) and gives the impression that all Hawai’i residents live happily with some form of medical insurance.

Truth is: a small fraction of the population is fortunate enough to have fulltime jobs with benefits, and many employers avoid the mandate by offering only part-time positions. Thus; many are forced to pay out-of-pocket for medical care unless they meet the poverty level guidelines, in which case they may receive full state medical insurance via MedQuest.

For one to qualify for medical assistance from MedQuest, the requirements for a single-family unit on Kaua’i are that they may not have assets exceeding $2,000 and their gross monthly income may not exceed $418/month. No, that was not a misprint.

Ho’ola Lahui (Kauai Community Health Center) does offer medical services to residents on a sliding scale. And although they are limited in how much assistance and specialized treatment they can provide their patients, they are continually expanding. (The staff at Ho’ola Ahui are the most kind and WONDERFUL medical team I have ever come to know, and I am eternally grateful for everything they do for myself and all the people of Kaua’i).

However, their hands are still tied when it comes to providing assistance for many specialized medical needs. Suppose you have a medical concern (possibly even life threatening) that requires an MRI or CT-scan to get a proper diagnosis? You are most likely hopeless.

The Department of Human Service’s eligibility guidelines for medical assistance throughout this country are completely unrealistic in today’s economy. Many of us “working class poor” struggle, often juggling two or more jobs that even still barely keep us afloat despite how scrupulously we scrimp and budget our finances and living expenses.

I certainly cannot see how one can survive on the DOH’s maximum income allowance of $418/month unless you’re living in a tree house and eating out of garbage bins. Many of us do not want to become another “homeless on welfare” statistic, and many of us take pride in being productive, working, tax-paying citizens. And in doing so; we forfeit the privilege of receiving medical care.

I imagine there are hundreds of thousands of U.S. tax-paying citizens throughout the country who are in this position. I wonder how many have lost their lives simply due to the lack of medical assistance, while billions of dollars are sent overseas every day for …..??

To those who are responsible for determining these unrealistic “poverty level guidelines” and to those who sit on the board and make the ultimate decision on whether an applicant may qualify for medical assistance; I would like their names and mailing addresses so that I may send them the invitations to the funerals of those whose lives are unnecessarily cut short simply due to their lack of medical insurance.

One final note; I would like to publicly thank Congressman Ed Case for his efforts to assist me in my own personal fight for medical insurance. Although his efforts have thus far been in vain, I pray that he will embrace this matter and lobby in favor of a serious reform in the eligibility guidelines for medical care in Hawai’i as well as the rest of this nation.

  • Jaana Mäkipää

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