Tag Archives: single-payer

(Not dear) #MolinaHealth

This is my third instalment of a series on the state of (un)health insurance in America and specifically Molina Health’s role. It should be noted that it took seven days for the courtesy of an 89 word, non sequitur reply to my email to Molina Health’s acting CEO Mr. Joseph White. 89 wordsI very purposefully channeled my outrage at the way my friend has been ‘handled’ into viable solutions in keeping with the historic efforts of the Molina family, and the company which still bears their name, to provide healthcare to people who need it. From a reputation management perspective a great deal of good could have been realised for Molina Health and enormous benefit for their employees and those insured by the company had their executive team actually chosen to address my points of contention.

It’s said that the fish rots from the head down and I think this adage is particularly relevant to Molina Health’s new leadership. In case you are unaware Molina Health is a Fortune 500 company with $14.8 Billion USD in assets under management and some 3.5 million Americans identified (figures from 2015) by Wikipedia as being ‘insured’ by them.

I found the Wikipedia link ‘interesting’ primarily because of my personal interaction with one of the founder’s sons Dr J. Mario Molina.  Let me express that it is entirely possible that the Molina family are as much the victims of shareholder and board greed Molinasand enmity as my friend Jeffrey Scott Hendrick and very likely hundreds of thousands of other Molina Health policy holders.  To Dr Molina’s credit, and a hat tip to how social platforms open up previously unimagined channels of communication, he tried on more than one occasion to act as an advocate for Jeffrey.

Under Mr. White’s ‘leadership’ it took Molina Health fifteen (15) days to push through the paperwork to replace the PICC line rendered unusable as a result of the incompetence by one of the home care nurses contracted by them to come and clean it. Had Molina Health simply approved a port for Jeffrey’s chemotherapy in the first instance, instead of this PICC line, it would have been more cost effective from financial and human resources perspectives and mitigated Jeffrey’s associate stress levels and his efforts to get the care his insurance policy should have provided.  I hear my grandfather say ‘do the job right the first time, it’s cheaper’. At the Eleventh Hour, coincidently within 36 hours of my letter to Joseph White (as follows), Jeffrey received a phone call from Molina Health CANCELLING his approved ride to and from outpatient surgery to install the port in his chest. Molina Health policies seem to be driven by the same level of incompetence and pettiness the world is witnessing from the current inhabitant of The White House and the Republicans in Washington with whom Dr Molina ran afoul.

Follows, in its entirety, is my email to Molina Health’s interim CEO Joseph White of 22 August 2017 which I have now also shared with Karen Kaplan, Health Editor of the Los Angeles Times (though it is unknown what investigative reporting efforts might be realised as a result).

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Joe White
Joseph White, Molina Health interim CEO. Photo from CNBC.

 

 

White letter

Mr. White:

In the interest of transparency, I have your email address courtesy of Dr Mario Molina who made a couple of calls to staff within Molina to try and put this debacle to right – he was unsuccessful despite his family name still being on the marque.  Also in the interest of transparency, I have Cc’d Dr Molina and Bcc’d Jeffrey on this email. Your response will determine whether I share this with Karen Kaplan, LA Times Health Desk editor and publish as an open letter to my blog and LinkedIn.

Before you read any further I would like to invite you to go to the bathroom in your (presumably) lovely C-suite office and take a look at the man in the mirror. Done? Good. Whether you choose to embrace the responsibility and the effects which your decisions have on other peoples’ lives you are indeed RESPONSIBLE. I invite you to think about that responsibility when you next catch your reflection in a mirror or a pane of glass because from my perspective your soul is damned to a karma unceasing misery.

As Molina’ Health’s interim CEO you are responsible for so much more than the corporate bottom line, the actions of every employee and the policies of Molina Health which impact the lives of your insured’s are also your responsibility.  So let me be very clear, ‘your actions’ are negatively impacting the life of a friend of mine dealing with lymphoma.  It’s unclear whether Molina Health has chosen to serve as a ‘death board’ focused on pure profit or if the sheer level of incompetence, indifference and obstruction at Molina Health are endemic to your corporate culture but to quote my friend: “I don’t trust you to help me cure my cancer.”

That quote comes from a conversation between one of your employees and my friend Jeffrey Scott Hendrick as a follow up on a report that one of his slew of doctors had laughed ‘at him’. This doctor did not laugh at Jeffrey the laughter was in response to his sharing the name of your company as his insurer.  As I understand it with each revelation in that 25-minute conversation there were pauses of stunned silence as she captured the details of Jeffrey’s ‘care’ as a Molina Health insured.  Your employee was also unaware of that 1400 Molina Health employees are about to lose their jobs and of the pending lawsuits and various settlements in which Molina is involved.  I am certain the file exists unless Molina has a policy of scrubbing its negative internal documents, so I would encourage you to request the report in Jeffrey’s own words.

You know what’s so interesting to me? Fortune recently ran a feature on how companies perform better financially when there was a positive perception of their leadership.  Self-serving as it might be now would be a great time for Molina to realign its focus to care to ensure its fiscal solvency.

You will find the first two of my blog posts about Molina Health here and here; be assured I am far from done.  The latest obstruction in Jeffrey’s journey back to health includes a home care nurse (from Gentle Care) contracted by Molina Health to come and clean his PICC. This incompetent woman displaced the PICC two and a half inches (2 1/2″) rendering it useless for Jeffrey’s forthcoming chemotherapy infusion (scheduled and pre-approved by Molina for this week). The PICC needs to be cleaned again to prevent infection, but it also needs to be replaced with a surgery to install a port (already approved).  And just HOW does the chemo session scheduled for this week take place this week without a functioning PICC? Or without the surgery (which should have taken place last week) to install the port? A week has passed without a response from Molina Health.  The PICC still needs to be cleaned. The surgery still needs to be scheduled (for this week) and, yet another, chemotherapy session rescheduled because of the collective incompetence and indifference of your staff and your contracted resources.  WHO. ARE. YOU. PEOPLE., that this kind of work ethic is allowed to continue? A person purchases in good faith thinking they will never really need it when they are healthy your fiduciary responsibility in this transaction is to ensure coverage if and when they ever needed it. Someone with cancer doesn’t need more stress and their insurance company should certainly not be the cause in my humble opinion.

I could, of course, just ‘go away’ but you would have to fix things to my satisfaction first (I have a pretty considerable list which fulfilled would provide a much-needed boost to Molina’s public perception in the process).  Make this better before I blow this up further, I am sharing the screen shot of my Twitter direct mail conversation with Dr Molina (attached) to offer up my requirements.

Dr. Molina continued

Thank you for your time and consideration, I look forward to your prompt reply.

Kindest regards,

Teresa Fritschi

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 
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(Cancer) FaceTime

So much about who we are is defined by how we look. How others see us, how we think others see us, how we see ourselves. I don’t think this is different when you are an actor but maybe it is larger, weighs heavier on the psyche. Selection for roles tied to art direction criteria established in offices of polished chrome and laminate is a harsher reality than most of us will ever subject ourselves to in the pursuit of earning a living.

Jeff's hairIn front of a live audience consisting of members of his ‘tribe’ – people known in real life (IRL) and those of us fortunate enough to have met him through the wonders of the social media – he did ‘it’.

In Los Angeles, Jeff took an electric razor fitted with a number 3 blade to his head before chemotherapy could claim his hair, a friend there to live stream, afterwards they opened a bottle of something. In Stockholm, I cried for the continuing expansion of Jeff’s ‘I got this’ attitude.

In the first moments of the video Jeff shows us ‘why’. He reaches up, with index finger and thumb and (far too) easily plucks a clump of hair from his head… we witness his action and we feel it. We think about the totality of the gesture and what we jeffrey Scott Hendrick hairwatched long after the video ends. Jeff’s narration earns our solidarity and our running commentary included YouTube videos, GIFs and emoticons, humour, awe, love, respect and lots of encouragement. Some called his action brave – he was emphatic that he wasn’t being the least bit brave. Bravery, Jeff said, is many other things but it is not fighting cancer. Bravery is defined as a selfless, heroic action which benefits others, but to be brave, as a verb, “to defy; challenge; dare.” Oh yes, this is Jeff. It wasn’t the actual shaving of his head, or subsequently his beard (due to, as he described it, a newly developed ‘mange patch’ on his cheek), what is so brave it is Jeff’s willingness to publicly document his path to being #CancerFreebyXmas each day. To be honest I don’t know where he finds the stamina. That documentation, his ability to nominally separate himself from his experience and tap into his comfort zone as an actor/spokesperson and generally taking the bull by the horns when the health “care” system in the United States is doing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g imaginable to hinder him leaves me in awe.

In two chemo treatments Jeff has wrestled the softball size mass known as “Lumpy” to less than a third of that. He has accomplished this through grace, a formidable example of positive-ness, eating well (organic Paleo) and, I think, the cyclical path of the universal kindness he freely offers to the world around him returning to his doorstep in abundance.

The greatest violation our world knows is the systemic stripping away of dignity.  The premiums Jeff willingly parted with each month to Molina Health long before Lumpy took up residence (from my perspective) seemed designed to finance a black op site rather than serve as a critical component to the restoration of his health.  Had Molina been ‘better insurance’ the necessity to shave his head would have eliminated by the use of a Cold Cap, shouldn’t insurance cover expenses related to treatments and the loss of income (enter the Aflac duck voice)? If you’ve ever been 8,000 miles away from someone you have come to care deeply about when some publicly traded behemoth is trying to break them into tiny shards then my words will resonate with you – each of Jeff’s sorties in his battle have become very personal to me, and to all of his tribe.

A couple night’s ago I penned an email to a contact in the public relations department of Lowe’s primarily because she had expressed, on behalf of Lowe’s, their best wishes for Jeff’s health.  As I have written previously Jeff plays “Matt” in a commercial for them. What that commercial has done for Jeff is beyond financial gain, it has removed a torturous contributor of stress generated by indifference, ineptitude and bad policy. As an actor you earn equity in the Screen Actors Guild, SAG, through each appearance you make.  At a certain point that equity generates benefits including the ability to participate in SAG’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance. With Lowe’s “Matt” commercial running in multiple markets Jeff has earned sufficient equity to qualify for and be accepted into SAG’s insurance. He was covered by his new SAG policy in moments. Jeff was then able to put the decaying stench otherwise known as Molina Health and their rendition co-conspirator Global IPA to the curb like yesterday’s trash. As every ‘happy ending’ has an element of karma running through it, Reuters ran a story concurrent to Jeff’s migration noting that the interim CEO of Molina Health was letting 1400 employees go in an effort to improve Molina’s financial picture. I take incredible satisfaction in their downward spiral, and will gladly assist in any possible way to their ultimate demise. Molina Health and Global IPA are prime examples of the rotting abscess of greed destroying American society. Their employees and shareholders alike are culpable for allowing internal protocols to perpetuate an environment of suffering and stress at a time when no one has an extra ounce of energy to spare. Damn them all.

* This is the second in a series of posts about my friend Jeff, his cancer and the rationale for establishing single-payer, universal health care in America.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

This is “Matt”. Matt is Every Single One of Us.

Jeff

This is “Matt”. Matt is the guy down the street whose kid plays Little League with yours.  He is courteous and helpful.  So, of course, he works at getting your ‘shades of blue’ reconciled in the paint department at Lowe’s.  Matt could be your neighbor, or you.  The truth is that Matt is every single one of us.  “Matt” is actually my friend Jeffrey, an actor living in Los Angeles, a very funny comedian, an intellectual pundit (when he chooses to be) and a man with a laugh that fills rooms with joy.  Jeffrey has been diagnosed with cancer, stage 2 lymphoma to be precise, and at present he is being squeezed in the middle like a tube of toothpaste by a grossly negligent ‘system’ and the people employed by it who have zero sense of humanity. I am mad as Hell over all of it.

The name of his insurance company matters, it’s Molina Health.  With ‘our’ shareholder, profit-driven, horribly broken, healthcare system in the United States the truth is that what is happening to Jeffrey could happen to any of us and our loved ones. It also matters that his insurance company hangs up on him. It matters that the administrative staff tell him that his premium will quadruple if he ‘wants’ home care for changing the dressing on the tube sticking out of his arm (sepsis being a real possibility) where he is hooked up to receive his chemo. It matters that I escalate and help seems imminent only to have some drone of an administrative staff person deflect and say it will take two weeks. It matters that appointments are made and cancelled due to software, and human errors and then the humans charged with delivering this news are devoid of humanity. It matters because the stress of dealing with getting healthy on your own (even with a supportive tribe) is enormous. It matters that his first oncologist failed to speak a single word to him in the nine weeks immediately following his diagnosis and never prescribed anti-nausea pills with the host of others which he did prescribe.  Jeffrey’s second oncologist is amazing. Despite the fact that I am a non-relation he has taken my call to problem solve aspects related to Jeffrey’s treatment from Sweden where I am currently.

Which brings me to two components of the health insurance storyline in the United States; employer supported efforts like those which “Matt” as an employee of Lowe’s enjoys (really amazing benefits which should prompt all of you reading this to vote with your wallet and shop at your local Lowe’s ‘just because’) and the idea of a single-payer system such as our Canadian neighbors and those in the Nordics enjoy. On this day, with TrumpCare effectively dead, the reality of a single-payer health care system in the United States has risen like Fawkes in Harry Potter.

Let me remove any ambiguity, I have a couple of issues with the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) but neither have to do with the fact that it came to fruition under our 44th President; the first is that it didn’t go far enough and the second being its mandate to be purchased under penalty.  If we have sufficient financial resources to wage seemingly endless war across the planet then Americans of every stripe should have universal healthcare on par with what our federally elected officials enjoy. And if that can’t be done then our elected officials should have that benefit voided.

How do we get to a single-payer health care system to the universal benefit of 330 million Americans and put the United States on par with other first world nations? Well, California, where my friend Jeffrey lives, ever the ‘test the water’ state for public policy adoption has a viable solution called The Healthy California Act. Evidently this legislation has broad support on both sides of the political aisle in La-La Land but one man has blocked it from advancing, and there is a reason for that. Actually there are about 475,000 reasons in the form of contributions from the Political Action Committees of health insurance companies and their executives to Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Redon re-election campaign.  Redon is a perfect example of the systemic violation of the masses by a corrupt politician bought and paid for by the highest bidders for his favor.

SB-562 The Healthy California Act.

The passage of a single-payer system in California, or nationally, wouldn’t put insurers out of business but the resulting shifts in the market would demand agility that insurance companies are not generally known to possess. A model which offers premium coverage in lieu of, or as a supplement to, a single-payer system would still provide considerable revenue – with a healthier demographic contributing to shareholder value.  Policies which would allow customers choices in taking advantage of medical tourism opportunities around the world should also be considered. The increasing perception of health insurers places them at odds with the humankind they are supposed to be serving – essentially sentencing their policy holders to death when costs become inconvenient and expensive. When we make a conscious choice to deny protection and participation by our most vulnerable we can no longer claim to be an advanced or civil society. The costs are too high when we lose our compassion and willingness to step forward and be part of the solution rather than remain part of the problem.

Critically we need to dislodge ourselves from the ‘us vs. them’ mindset that is so pervasive in any conversation about health insurance, healthcare and providing a path forward for all of our citizens. Universal peace of mind around the most fragile aspect of living our lives fully and completely should not even be a question in 2017.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you!