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DeVos transplant clinic urges heart patient to start $10,000 online ‘fundraising effort’ to pay for treatment

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As progressive lawmakers and healthcare experts have frequently pointed out in recent months, few growing trends have laid bare the fundamental immorality and brokenness of America’s healthcare system quite like the rise of GoFundMe and other crowdfunding platforms as methods of raising money for life-saving medical treatments that—due to insurance industry greed and dysfunction—are far too expensive for anyone but the very wealthiest to afford.

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“Insurance groups are recommending GoFundMe as official policy—where customers can die if they can’t raise the goal in time—but sure, single-payer healthcare is unreasonable.”
—Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Providing the latest example of this horrifying trend, a Michigan woman seeking a heart transplant publicized a letter she received from the Spectrum Health Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Clinic—named after the late father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos—informing her that she is “not a candidate” for the procedure “at this time” because she needs a “more secure financial plan” to afford the required post-operation immunosuppressive medication.

The letter goes on to explicitly recommend “a fundraising effort of $10,000” to help pay for the drugs.

Hedda Elizabeth Martin, who posted the letter on Facebook, wrote that her situation encapsulates America’s “price gouging, horribly overpriced, underinsured system,” which affects millions each day in the richest country on Earth.

The letter, which Martin received shortly before Thanksgiving, began to go viral on Saturday and quickly caught the attention of progressives like Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who identified Martin’s situation as indicative of the broad failure of America’s healthcare status quo—which produces tremendous profits for insurance and pharmaceutical giants and worse outcomes than the healthcare systems of other industrialized nations.

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“Insurance groups are recommending GoFundMe as official policy—where customers can die if they can’t raise the goal in time—but sure, single-payer healthcare is unreasonable,” Ocasio-Cortez, an unabashed supporter of Medicare for All, wrote sarcastically.

“‘You can’t have a heart unless you do GoFundMe for 10K’ is not a just system,” concluded Pacific Standard columnist David Perry.

In her Facebook post, Martin—who has already completed one GoFundMe campaign related to her heart troubles—noted that she “will not be put on the transplant list until I fulfill a requirement of $10,000 set aside.” (Update: Martin has started a new GoFundMe to help pay for her treatment.)

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“Only when I have raised that required amount, will I then be ‘reconsidered’ for [a] heart transplant. Not automatically added to [the] list but reconsidered,” she continued. “This is new.”

Martin’s letter from Spectrum Health comes at a time when a growing number of Americans and members of Congress believe that the current for-profit healthcare system should be replaced by Medicare for All, a system that would guarantee everyone coverage regardless of their ability to pay.

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In addition, as Common Dreams reported, a Koch-funded study published earlier this year inadvertently found that Medicare for All would save the American public $2 trillion in healthcare costs over ten years while covering everybody.


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2020 Election

Trump and the GOP have become the party of the dead

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There are few morbid topics subject to greater speculation than the religious loyalty of President Donald Trump's "base." Why an alarmingly large amount of Americans refuse even to entertain any criticism of Trump deserves scrutiny from political scientists, psychologists and perhaps horror novelists working in the school of Edgar Allan Poe.

This article first appeared in Salon.

What is abundantly clear is that no matter who votes for Trump, he and the Republican Party on the national level have no interest in governing on the behalf of living human beings — with the exception of ensuring that a tiny minority of billionaires and multimillionaires enlarge their investment portfolios. Trump evinces no concern for Americans dying of the coronavirus, racist violence or any other malady or injustice. He demonstrates no regard for health care professionals courageously trying to save their patients from dying, and appears cruelly indifferent to the struggles of millions of workers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by COVID-19. Needless to say, Trump also shows contempt for Black Lives Matter, immigrants and anyone who opposes his re-election, which at this moment (and throughout his presidency) is more than half of the American public.

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As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode

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As Florida experiences a surge in coronavirus cases, the residents of the state are facing obstacles like overwhelmed hospitals and a looming shortage in beds.

This article first appeared in Salon.

There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)

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2020 Election

The GOP is a suicide cult

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Back in March, we argued that Donald Trump had become the charismatic leader of the dumbest suicide cult ever. There were fewer than 500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the time, but it wasn't difficult to see the trajectory we were on at even that early date. At the time, we were commenting on the President's* repeated claims that the whole thing was a big hoax and polls showing that Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to say they were taking steps to avoid becoming infected.

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