Just a few posts down from this, you can see a similar report from NOW on PBS. This is a great piece of additional information from CBS's 60 Minutes. The idea that a hospital in Las Vegas set up collection boxes in convenient stores to help pay for care should make Nevada lawmakers proud.
CBS: Recently thousands of letters went out across Las Vegas telling cancer patients that the only public hospital in the state was closing its outpatient clinic for chemotherapy. Obviously, our gaming and tourism is tanking. The construction industry has been decimated. And all of those things cause big, gaping holes in the state budget. The hardest-hit area for us was the Medicaid budget," Kathy Silver, the hospital's CEO, explained.
Silver had signed that letter patients received. The $21 million was cut by the legislature when tax revenues went bust. Nevada is number one in foreclosures; unemployment is over 10 percent, double what it was last year and climbing. "When the hospital first informed you that the outpatient oncology clinic was closing, what did you think?" Pelley asked Dr. Nick Spiritos, who treats ovarian and uterine cancers.
"How can you do this to cancer patients? They're dying. If we don't provide them care, their outcome is guaranteed. They're going to die," he replied.
"If you're rich enough you're obviously fine. So who is falling through the cracks here?" Pelley asked.
"The patients who don't qualify for a social services type of program," Silver said.
"What we're talking about here are people who are making $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 a year and have lost their jobs and therefore lost their insurance?" Pelley asked.
"That’s correct," Silver replied.
"The middle class," Pelley remarked.
"That's correct," Silver said.
They've put collection boxes out at convenient stores around town. (Best Health Care in the world?)
Yolanda Coleman remains untreated. After 60 Minutes' visit, a medical supply company took away her hospital-style bed and her wheelchair. "You never know what God has for you down the road," she told Pelley. "But, I know he has more for me than just to leave my children because I can't have medical insurance." Yolanda Coleman had her insurance reinstated after 60 Minutes called the insurance company to ask why she had been dropped.
The Nevada state legislature is now considering a proposal to cut millions of dollars more from the budget of University Medical Center. (It's just part of the Republican plan to cut costly entitlements and rely only on market forces. How does it sound so far?)