An Open to Letter to Senators Grassley and Ernst from a Burnt Out Healthcare Provider

By Jason Frerichs

Senators, it’s my understanding that you’re about to waffle and vote to repeal and replace Obamacare with the much worse Trumpcare.  It’s sad that you are blatantly ignoring the Congressional Budget Office after they told you that doing this would kick 22 million people off their insurance.  It’s sad that you claim to be Christians but your actions do not seem to be those of people who are inspired to serve their fellow man.  Need I remind you that this is something Jesus has commanded his followers to do?  I’ve read the Bible in English and Spanish.  I cannot find the page where it says Jesus healed the sick but only if some distant group deemed them worthy.  You cannot worship both God and suck from the teat of ALEC and the Koch Brothers.

Chuck, I’m extremely disappointed in you.  I’m so far to the left that I have to look right to see Bernie Sanders.  That said, I’ve voted for you multiple times during my adult life.  I used to think you truly cared about Iowans.  I thought you put country over party.  I was in the 10th grade in 1993 when you came to my high school, Iowa City High.  You talked about why you voted against Operation Desert Storm.  I loved you for that.  I have a photo of the two of us eating lunch together in the cafeteria.  You spoke to me like a grown up and like my opinion mattered.  I was just starting to develop an interest in politics, partially because of the kindness you showed me.  Where is that man?  That Chuck doesn’t exist anymore.  Now he’s too afraid of Tea Party activists yelling at him. He’s too afraid to stand up for Iowans because to do so means going against Donald Trump.  The Chuck Grassley I met in 1993 wouldn’t have been afraid.  What happened?

Joni, I spent 5 years in Montgomery County and I know all about you.  I really don’t expect much. When you were a state senator, you tried to write discrimination against same-sex couples into the state constitution.  You haven’t voted for a single bill or put forth any legislation that would benefit anyone besides your corporate donors.  You smile and pretend like everyone you meet is your best friend.  Then you stab your best friend in the back.  You are a not an example of the type of Christian I would aspire to be. I’m not a Biblical scholar.  I’m just a guy whose mother made him attend catechism classes.  I do know that there isn’t any biblical support for taking away health care from our most vulnerable.  When I listened to you speak at the Red Oak High School in June 2014, you said you wanted judges who rule based on biblical law.  I have to ask, which interpretation were you referring to?  Yours, the non-existent gospel of prosperity or what the book actually says?

Senators, I work in Adams County which is the most rural county in Iowa.  We have the lowest population in the state.  We do not have a traffic light in the entire county.  Unless you are like me and have a specialized skill (respiratory therapy) finding a job that pays a living wage is very difficult.  I personally know college graduates in both Adams and Montgomery Counties that work low wage jobs because they cannot find anything to will pay them what they are worth.

Rural hospitals will be the most affected if Trumpcare comes to be.  They are already struggling with lowered reimbursements and fighting just to get paid.  Some hospitals are unable to accept coverage from one of the Medicaid Managed Care groups because the reimbursements are too low.  They would lose money on every single procedure. Most hospitals are not looking to make massive profits.  They just need to be far enough in the black to keep their doors open, recruit top level staff, and invest in programs that help vulnerable populations.

Why am I burnt out?  I’m sick of dealing with managed care companies that take far too long to approve needed procedures and equipment.  I had a recent experience with a patient in his late 50s who had both CHF and COPD.  We had qualified him for home oxygen.  The first mishap was the patient’s MCO said our qualification testing was performed 49 hours prior to discharge, not the required 48 hours, so they made us redo it.  This could have been caught before discharge but the patient’s home care company sat on the information for 2 days instead of checking it right away.  His MCO took 6 days to approve a retest.  I had to loan the patient an oxygen concentrator from my department because I didn’t think he could go 6 days without supplemental oxygen.  I was worried about him going into respiratory arrest during the delay.  I put my job on the line to do that.  What if the patient damaged or didn’t return the equipment?  That was a $10,000 piece of equipment.  I’m tired of fighting organizations that solely exist to find ways to deny people medical coverage.  I’m tired of working with other burnt out providers.  Being burnt out contributes to low work place morale.

In closing, I’d like to say that I have zero faith that either one of you cares about my opinion or the opinion of anyone who isn’t a wealthy donor.  It’s too bad that money prevents you from doing the right thing.  It’s too bad that you’re both part of the problem instead of being part of the solution.  It’s too bad that when Trumpcare inevitably fails, you won’t accept any accountability.  You’ll just blame Obama.  If only he would have shown his birth certificate.

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