Jahi McMath, Canary in the Coal Mine?
Jahi McMath lies in a hospital bed, declared to be "brain-dead" by her doctors due to complications from a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy procedure. Children's Hospital Oakland and the McMath family have been entangled in a legal battle over control of Jahi's "body", and whether she is actually alive or dead. This is a story that has received massive national publicity.
A couple of elements in this story have been neglected, however. First, the current mortality rate for tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy procedures is so low it cannot be calculated. Second, 70% of the patients in Children's Hospital Oakland are on Medi-Cal, California's version of the federal Medicaid program. The hospital is continually in a state of financial desperation, since Medi-Cal only covers 20 cents for every dollar of hospital costs for treatment. Did this have some influence on the quality of care Jahi received? The question deserves to be asked.
It is possible that ignoring this question was just due to slipshod reporting from all of the media outlets in the country. On the other hand, perhaps the answer does not support the narrative that the Obama administration's healthcare takeover through the Affordable Care Act is actually beneficial to patients.
A study from the University of Virginia showed that patents on Medicare are 45% more likely to die before leaving the hospital than patients with private insurance. Medicaid patients are 93% more likely to die under the same circumstances. In fact, patients on Medicaid were found to have significantly higher hospital mortality rates than patients with no insurance at all. Arguably, the results of this study support the contention that as government involvement in healthcare increases, quality of care decreases.
As 17 million additional patients are being thrown into Medicaid through the ACA and we inch closer to Obama's stated vision of a "single payer" government-controlled system, Jahi McMath may be a canary in America's healthcare coal mine.
Andrew Thomas blogs at http://darkangelpolitics.com