January 6, 2006
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Systemic Epidemic
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
In your State of the State Address, you challenged dynamic leaders to look you in the eye and tell it like it is.
California’s healthcare system drastically under-serves us, the problems are acute and things are getting worse.
My company, Complete Access, has long served the community of people with disabilities and their families. I am an expert in my fields – having served as everything from the prime consultant to the Transportation Security Administration on the matters of airport security checkpoints for people with disabilities to the guy who gets down on his knees with a spirit level to assure that the slope angle in the barrier-free shower we are constructing is as it should be.
Every single day I interact with California seniors and people with disabilities and their families and so I hear things first hand that chillingly affirm the pathetic state of our healthcare system (it’s a national problem but I’ll focus on our plight in California).
Yesterday, Louise E. called me. She lives in an apartment building in Van Nuys. She needs a ramp. She has Medicare and MediCal and collects disability income. She told me that from 1970 to 1980 she was employed as a Surgical Technician for the Veteran’s Administration and she loved her work. She has suffered with a degenerative back condition and has not worked since 1982. She would love to return to work in her field, she says.
She called me for my help in getting a ramp installed and I am working to get her a grant.
She also told me that because Medicare/MediCal only pays for half of her prescribed medicine each month it was necessary for her to use her food money this month to pay for her meds. I asked her if she had any food and she said, “no.” She told me she would not have food money until the 15th of this month because she spent her money for her medicine. (The ELF, our non-profit, sent her $100 so that she could buy food.)
She asked me why she couldn’t get her medicine from Canada or Mexico as it would cost her less and then she’d have some money left over to buy food.
I wonder why we created the NAFTA highway if we can’t readily move legitimate, useful goods such as medicine and rehabilitation equipment from Canada to the United States to Mexico and back.
One other story before I wrap this up:
I install automatic door openers for several state agencies and foundations, etc.
I installed an automatic door opener for a married couple (both with disabilities and both using power wheelchairs) in their subsidized apartment that they share.
They each have their own caregivers to assist them every single day. The State of California pays the caregivers’ wages. Both the husband and the wife had been long-term acquaintances of mine and so I was able to chat quite freely with them about their lives.
With some assistance, both could work and would work and both would like to be more productive.
Month after month, caregivers and clients, as one jolly group, sit around and watch Jerry Springer. They are not being productive and they are not getting better and they are misusing our public funds. This is a waste of money and doesn’t serve anyone.
This must change.
The good news is this. Because we irresponsibly waste hundreds of millions of dollars each year, small tweaks will create big ripples and the ripples beget big waves.
I can tell you more stories then you’d likely care to hear and the bottom line is this…
I have very specific ideas as to what ought to be done as quickly as possible in order to “stop the madness” and stop the amazing waste. The system is broke and we need to fix it.
I want to come to Sacramento as soon as possible to meet with you face to face – to tell you what I see, what I know and what I believe we can readily do if we’ve got the balls, in order to fix this tragedy which plagues us all.
10468 Eastborne Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
310 474.8800 voice
310 475.6303 fax
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