June Girard: In defense of Sarah Palin


Published: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 3:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 3:51 p.m.

I never imagined that I would someday be defending Sarah Palin, but I am forced to respond to the media hype regarding the shooting in Tucson and her “cross hairs.”

It was not her despicable use of violent terms or the lack of civil discourse that caused the shooting, it was the failure of our health care system to deal with mental illness. Imagine that there is one member of your family who has demonstrated aberrant behavior. You take that person to the doctor, who explains that your family member does not have a physical illness, but should be seen by a mental health professional.

As an ordinary middle class family of some means, you pursue visits to a psychiatrist who provides him with prescriptions to calm him. These visits are either not covered by your insurance policy, or they are covered for a limited time. There is usually a one time only treatment program not to exceed $25,000 provided in some insurance policies for in-house treatment. Health insurance traditionally covers hospital cost, surgical costs, physician costs and sometimes medication, not mental health issues like anorexia, bulimia, psychotic breaks, etc.

At the rate of private care cost for any mental illness, the one time amount allowed under your health insurance is used up in one month. Then the family must start sacrificing to continue care. Your loved one is in and out of long-term facilities that run from $20,000 a month and up, so it is no time at all before you are unable to continue to pay for his care. So, you take him home and live in fear of him and for him. In Tucson, he commits a heinous crime killing 6 people and wounding many others.

It is important to note that while insufficient insurance coverage has prevented many people with mental illnesses from obtaining needed treatment and quality care, the Health Reform Bill, that the new House of Representatives proposes to do away with; provides access to health insurance that covers mental health on a par with the coverage of medical and surgical care. Those who cannot afford insurance would qualify for subsidies. Insurers would have to meet certain requirements; provisions that include prevention programs, improvements in Medicare drug benefits, and new insurance for long term care.

The young man’s illness was apparent to all those who dealt with him. I don’t know what professional help his family sought, but I do know little is available without the burden of significant cost that can lead to bankruptcy. He took enough ammunition to kill more than one person. It was not a personal killing even though he may have had a grudge against the Congresswoman; she unknowingly gave him the opportunity to kill many people to assuage his pain.

June Girard,

Gainesville

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