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covered enough to return to her home in the remote area of Hornell, New York. Mary could not manage alone and was forced to rely on others to care for her.
she had what she wanted, she was home. Home health aids were made available but the expenses were ruled ineligible by Medicare as there is no participating agency supplying the services and billing Medicare in Stuben County. Mary's care did not, therefore, meet all the criteria for benefits. Appeals were filed. Again, denials. Letters to her Conyressman were written with only an oral negative response. All efforts to obtain reimbursement were fruitless.
Mary was forced to draw upon her life savings. She wanted to maintain her independence. As she watched her money disappear she tried to do without the home health aids and do more on her own as much as possible. In February of 1982 Mary, alone, fell and fractured her hip. Hospitalized for some time, Mary was eventually allowed to return to her farm home. She again hired home health aids to assist
She was adamant she would not die poor and again refused the help she needed as long as she could. As her money dwindled, so did her will to live.
Mary was buried two weeks ago.
Mr. and Mrs. David B. Gordon had their story published in the September 27, 1982, issue of "Newsweek". Mr. Gordon, a retired police officer, and his wife have a total annual retirement income of $41,100.00, including Social Security, Pension and Dividends and Interest. They have no debt. Mrs. Gordon suffers from Parkinson's disease and its complications and remained at home with her husband and paid
help until a few months ago when she suffered a stroke. She then required more skilled care which her husband, who lovinyly gave of himself and often was unable to slecp more than an hour at a stretch, could not provide. The nursing home cost is $105.00 daily or $38,325.00 per year more than their entire net income.
"Other than Medicaid there is practically no insurance that covers extended care in a nursing home. Medicare will pay most nursing home expenses for up to one hundred days, but only under certain conditions---".
"Mr. Gordon must spend all his savings and liquidate all
"The odd part of this arrangement is that by making (them) liquidate (their) savings, the government is depriving (them) of the $1,000.00 a month in bank and dividend interest that could go toward (his) wife's upkeep. If that income could be retained, the nursing home cost to Medicaid would be $600.00 or so a month.-------Instead, it will cost the taxpayers, through Medicaid, more than $1,600.00 per month."
Are there any alternatives?
Divorce was suggested as a logical alternative. But why should people who love each other be forced to divorce?
Mrs. Gordon's greatest fear has been that that she might end her life in a charity ward as did her grandmother duriny the Depression. She is in a good nursing home and is well cared for thanks to Mr. Gordon.
Now, what about Mr. Gordon?
Mary and the Gordon's are not isolated cases.
las Medicare been insuring too much or too little? Are not Medicare recipients currently paying more than their "fair share"?
I thank you for the opportunity to testify and for your kind attention.
am 67 years of age and have a for the kind of care my wife receives the government is depriving us of the
$20,000 pension. The social-securi- are more or less standard in most ma- $1,000 a month in bank and dividend ly payments my wife and I receive total jor cities. Some institutions are even interest that could go toward my wife's $9,400. Our income from interest on more expensive.
upkeep. If that income could be resavings and dividends amounts to ap- Other than Medicaid (government tained, the nursing-home cost to Medproximatcly $12,000 a year. We have no insurance for the impoverished) there icaid would be $600 or so a month. debts. Yet in a year or so I could be is practically no insurance that covers Were I permitted to work it would be virtually penniless, living on an al- extended care in a nursing home. Med- even less. Instead, it will cost the taxlowance similar to that given to welfare icare will pay most nursing-home ex- payers, through Medicaid, more than recipients.
penses for up to a hundred days, but $1,600 a month. My wife is in a nursing home. only under certain conditions: if the Divorce: The fact is that if I were
About 15 years ago I learned that my patient must be fed and medicated in- placing my parent or an incapacitated wife had Parkinson's disease. This con- travenously, suffers from bedsores, is child in an institution, under the law I dition triggered other problems, and kept on blood-thinning medication or would not be financially responsible. A four years ago a massive internal infec. requires throat-suctioning. The catch year ago an accountant suggested that tion necessitated the removal of most of is that most nursing homes will not since I was neither a millionaire nor a her small intestines. A chronic bladder admit such a person to their custody. pauper the sensible thing to do was to problem and unusually low blood pres
get a divorce. That way my wife would sure required that she take extremely
be entitled to a share of what we own large doses of medication. Because of If I were a murderer and I would not be left without a cent. her weakened condition she required
Certainly it is logical. But why should constant assistance with even ordinary
my pension could not
webe compelled to do something that is chores, such as going to the bathroom be touched, but having so contrary to the feelings we have for or dressing. Then, three months ago,
each other? Half of everything a husshe suffered a stroke. Her speech is still a sick wife carries a band has should and does belong to his unintelligible and the state of her health
wife. Why can't the same rule apply for is such that she can no longer be cared
us? Moreover, I believe that half of for at home.
whatever I might be able to earn should Paid Help: We have been married 35 Once I've spent my savings and dis- go to her. I would willingly return to years and in all that time have never posed of other assets, my wife will be work to lighten Medicaid's share of the been separated. Even after her intestin- eligible for Medicaid. Ifthere is an alter- bill. Why should people who have been al operation she had refused to go to native to insolvency, I am not aware of together as long as we have, and who a convalescent home and insisted on it. It is my understanding that I will be feel about each other the way we do, be coming home to me. For my part, I was allowed to keep $2,600 for myself and forced into a divorce? more than willing to have her. We were $2,600 for my wife, essentially for bur- The one bright spot in all this is that I forced to take in paid help costing close ial expenses. My pension, earned after was able to get her placed in a good to $400 a week but, still, I was on my 33 years with the New York City Police nursing home where she is well cared own nights and weekends, doing laun Department, will be attached. If I were for. As long as I've known her, my wife dry, shopping, preparing meals, clean- involved in a swindle and owed money, has agonized over the fact that her ing our small apartment, seeing that she if I were serving time in jail for murder, grandmother, who raised her, ended her took all her medicine, attending to her my pension could not be touched. Hav. life in a charity ward. That was during every need. I was seldom able to sleep ing a sick wife carries a special penalty. I the Great Depression and thoughts of more than an hour at a stretch.
will no longer be able to own anything. how things were for her beloved grandSince the stroke, however, my wife If I work I won't be able to keep my mother have always haunted her. I requires even more skilled and time- salary. What I will be allowed is a set know that whatever happens, even if I consuming care, which can best be amount for rent and food. I will join the am not around, she is in good hands. provided in a nursing home. The cost ranks of the nonproductive members of Now, what about me? is $105 daily, roughly $3,200 a month society. or $38,325 a year, which is more than The odd part of this arrangement is
David B. Gordon is a retired police our entire nci income. These charges that by making us liquidate our savings, officer. He lives in New York City.
NIEWSWEEK/SEPTEMBER 27, 1982
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JACK RAFFERTY, MAYOR, HAMILTON, N.J.
CONGRESSMEN RINALDO AND SMITH, I AM JACK RAFFERTY, MAYOR OF HAMILTON, WHICH AS YOU KNOW IS JUST A FEW MILES DOWN THE ROAD. 1 DON'T PRETEND TO BE AN EXPERT ON HEALTH OR AN AUTHORITY ON MEDICARE BUT RATHER I SPEAK AS A GENUINELY CONCERNED ELECTED OFFICIAL OF THE SEVENTH LARGEST MUNICIPALITY IN THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY WITH A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF ELDERLY AMERICANS. THE SUBJECT OF THIS
HEARING IS ONE OF VITAL INTEREST TO NOT ONLY ME BUT ALL AMERICANS
AND CERTAINLY ONE ON WHICH I WANT TO RECORD MY VIEWS FOR THE RECORD. I THINK YOU ARE TO BE CONGRATULATED FOR TAKING TIME FROM YOUR BUSY SCHEDULE TO COME TO NEW JERSEY AND HEAR THE VIEWS OF YOUR
CONSTITUTENTS, LOCAL EXPERTS AND OTHERS CONCERNED WITH THIS VITAL
LIKE ALL SUBJECT OF HEALTH CARE TO THE ELDERLY AND ITS FINANCING. AMERICANS, I AM DISTRESSED BY THE EVER INCREASING DIFFICULTY OLDER
AMERICANS ARE FACING IN OBTAINING QUALITY HEALTH CARE AT THAT
PERIOD IN THEIR LIFE WHEN THEY ARE IN GREATEST NEED.
I NEED NOT
REITERATE TO YOU, HOWEVER, THE HORROP STORIES OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE
SPENT THEIR LIFE SAVINGS ON AN ILLNESS AND THEN WERE FORCED TO JOIN THE RANKS OF THE INDIGENT. THIS, TO ME, IS A POLICY QUESTION THAT
MUST BE AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE DELIBERATIONS OF OUR STATESMEN IN
WASHINGTON. I AM NOT GOING TO RECITE A LITANY OF TALES OF WOE, BUT RATHER EXPRESS MY VIEWS ON THE PRESIDENT'S BUDGET PROPOSALS FOR HEALTH AND IN PARTICULAR MEDICARE. I AM HEAR TENED THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE INCEPTION OF MEDICARE, THIS ADMINISRATION HAS,
IN A BIPARTISAN FASHION, HAD THE COURAGE TO CONFRONT THE FINANCING DIFFICULTIES THAT HAVE LONG BEN I GNLY PLAGUED THE MEDICARE PROGRAM. I AM ALSO ENCOURAGED TO READ OF THE PASSAGE WITHIN THE LAST FEW DAYS
OF THE NEW PAYMENT SYSTEM FOR HOSPITALS THAT WILL PROVIDE THEM WITH