I had the pleasure of meeting several of these patients on Monday, as part of a fact-finding trip organized by the Independence Institute of Colorado. Independence Institute President Jon Caldara said that he had dreamed of hosting such a meeting for years.
Christina Woodkey, featured in the LA Times story, was one of the patients who shared her story. Crippled with pain, she endured years of doctors visits before finally being diagnosed with a spinal condition that required surgery. She was told to “take more pills,” and received an estimated time frame for surgery: one and a half years. Another Canadian we met, Cheryl Baxter, faced a similar wait time for hip surgery.
Lin Gilbert, a 27-year-old mother of two, faced debilitating pain due to a congenital spine condition. She was told by specialists that she was too young and “hadn’t suffered long enough.” Forced to wait three years for her surgery, Gilbert lost her job because of constant, unbearable pain.
Unfortunately, the other thing she lost in the process was her dignity. Gilbert was reduced to a walker and diapers – needed because of a loss of bowel function. The government, in its infinite kindness, “allowed” her to stay on welfare past the allotted time frame due to her special circumstances, and picked up the tab for her incontinence products. They also paid for her morphine – to which she became addicted.