Diabetics are NOT subclass citizens

Setting aside for the moment tight jeans contests and whiskey soaked tobacco, in my opinion Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has either been abducted by aliens or is ignorant in the truest sense of the word.

There is a law out there called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), corporate trainers are found of using the question “are you hip to HIPAA?” The bulk of the HIPAA law doesn’t really matter to anyone not directly working for or with health insurance companies, however there is a small portion of this gargantuan law that specifically regulates who, how and what people can do with your medical records. The basic idea is that you have to give permission for people to access your medical records, you don’t have to reveal your medical history to anyone you don’t want to reveal it to and employers and such can only ask a certain amount and type of questions about your medical history or record.

I am about to partially blow HIPAA out of the water. I am diabetic.

The connection between the governor and me waiving my right to privacy on this topic is that I am hoping to help Otter pull his foot out of his mouth.

The debate over joining the national health insurance exchange, creating a state run exchange or opting out of the whole ObamaCare program was the second largest issue before the Idaho Legislature in the last session, losing out only to personal property tax.

After a very long day at the office Idaho lawmakers decided to create a state run exchange. Otter has now come out saying there are stipulations to creating a state run insurance exchange that includes Medicaid. Specifically performance based stipulations to the Medicaid qualifications; Otter wants “more personal responsibility”.

Otter explained his point of view to the Idaho Statesman editorial board, which in turn published the governor’s outrageous claims in the Thursday, May 30, article; Idaho Gov. Otter wants more personal accountability in Medicaid.

Otter told the Statesman that the Medicaid system is broken and that the state will not join in the national expansion that would extend coverage to people or families earning up to 138 percent of the national poverty line. Under the national expansion a family of four bringing in less than $31,322 per year could receive coverage under Medicaid, but not an Idaho family of four.

Otter also explained that he wanted the state to implement certain performance based qualifications, and cited two situations as examples to explain his point of view.

“If you’re smoking, you gotta quit smoking. And if you don’t quit smoking, some part of the benefit, or all of it, goes away. If you’ve got a history of diabetes in your family, and you’re told to change a certain lifestyle, and you don’t do it, then you don’t get (benefits) anymore,” said Otter.

Starting with the part that I agree with: ultimately tobacco usage is a choice, yes the body of a tobacco user becomes dependent on the chemicals they are putting into their body, and it becomes very difficult to wean the body off of those chemicals, but in the end it is a choice, and at any time a choice can be made to stop using those chemicals. I agree with Otter that when communally paying for a benefit we should ask the people receiving that benefit to not increase the cost by making a choice.

There was NEVER a day when I woke up and thought about my personal schedule and said “I am bored. I think I will try diabetes today”. I never looked at my peers, advertisements in print or on TV and thought “I want to be like Wilford Brimley. No I don’t want oatmeal, I want diabetes”.

Governor Otter: this was NOT choice!

I am perplexed by Otter’s shift in political view point. This is the same man that relished the title of “libertarian” while he was serving in the U.S. House. Isn’t the foremost tenant of libertarianism a “live and let live” philosophy? This is the political belief that extended Laissez Faire beyond the world of economics and applied it to the entire political world.

Yet Otter wants the option to control individual eating and exercise habits. It appears that Otter has gone into the micromanagement business. I wonder how well that worked when he was leading Simplot.

Over the past four years as the conversation about health care and insurance has heated up, one topic has created a great deal of heartburn amongst legislators, lawyers and personal choice advocates; drug testing.

Many new legislators that road into the nation’s capitol on the wave of the Tea Party have tried to include a drug free caveat on social programs. This idea that people must be drug free to receive benefits seems logical to me. Addiction creates extra medical concerns and differences in dietary needs among other concerns. Chief among the reasons I favor for drug testing as a prerequisite for social programs is recipients of public assistance should not be breaking the law.

Unfortunately, social advocates and legal experts disagree with me saying drug testing applicants for assistance would be a violation of civil liberties.

I learned I was diabetic following a routine annual checkup and blood test required to continue using a prescription I take for my arthritis. I took the news to heart, changed my diet, increased my level of exercise and lost 70 pounds. While I have greater control over my diabetic condition I have hit a plateau in my weight loss and glucose levels. Despite continued assistance from doctors and dieticians I am maintaining my current physical state.

I took personal responsibility because blindness, limb amputation, and death really did not seem like attractive activities. The points still remain, I did NOT choose this and, while unpleasant, blindness, limb amputation, and death are NOT illegal activities.

I do not use Medicaid, but Otter’s ideas will preclude me from receiving assistance if the need should arise.

Otter is completely out of line in this respect, to the point a comment from his press secretary, letter to the editor, or phone call are not sufficient apologies.

To properly cover this blatant disregard for my humanity Idaho Gov. Clement Leroy “Butch” Otter should have the integrity to come to American Falls, sit in The Press office, look me in the eye and explain why my genetic predisposition makes me less of an American, less worthy of health care or social benefit than a criminal.

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