This is the fight the Schiavo case should have been. Not for a woman a decade dead but held in limbo by machines, but a living breathing fighting woman who has suffered greatly and survived but is now being denied food - the very basis of life - by Medicare. Nyceve has talked about murder by spreadsheet, and it is hard to imagine a case in colder blood than this.
Susan Spicer will die because some insurance bureaucrat thinks her only source of nutrition is "supplemental."
Medicare has denied an appeal from Susan Spicer, the Aneta woman who cannot afford to pay for the three weekly intravenous treatments she needs to stay alive.
Spicer, who owns Spicer’s Grocery in Aneta, said she will make an attempt to file another appeal.
Spicer was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in 1991 at age 36. She has neither a colon nor a small intestine. While she can eat and drink, the beverages run right through her, without providing any nutritional benefits.
Doctors have prescribed Perenteral Nutrition IV treatments — to maintain adequate caloric intake — three to five times a week for the past decade. Each treatment costs $213.
She had been taking just one treatment per week, instead of the prescribed three, since December because, she said, Medicaid will not pay for the treatments, calling them "supplemental."
Her weight has dropped from 145 pounds to about 120 since December.
Spicer's mistake was to buy the small store in the small town. Aneta is tiny. If you have been to North Dakota, you don't realize how small some of these towns are. Aneta is six blocks by seven and is home to fewer than 300 people. Towns like Aneta are so small, if someone doesn't volunteer to take over a business when the owner retires or dies, it will never be replaced. So by buying the store, Spicer helped secure the future of the town for a few more years.
Noridian, which administers Medicaid in North Dakota, didn't see it that way. They just saw the meager income from the store, which combined with Spicer's disability payments, put her just over the income limits. As a further twist of the knife, she now owes $62,000 for the treatments - no - the food that has sustained her for the last two years since she purchased the store. She appealed the decision, but Noridian said the form arrived a day too late to be considered.
The company informed Spicer that she has a right to appeal the latest decision.
"The only thing we can do is re-appeal," Spicer said Wednesday. "Even after my letter, my doctor’s letter and a letter from Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), they denied my appeal."
She is frustrated and growing weary of the four-month administrative battle.
"It’s like they want you to give up," Spicer said of the Medicare/Medicaid process. "I don’t have the strength to continue this on my own."
People around here try to help their own. But there just aren't enough of us. Her neighbors, even the doctors and nurses at the hospital where she gets her food have donated enough to keep her alive for a few more months. But she still faces that $62,000 bill. If people want to help financially, contributions may be sent to: Sheyenne Financial, Spicer Fund, P.O. Box 226, Aneta, ND 58212.
Money is good. But clout is better. I humbly ask that people here spread the word. This story should be on CNN, MSNBC, everywhere the whole Schiavo mess was 24/7. Let people know there is an opportunity to help someone who is really alive. Make the Right to Life people prove that their conception of life doesn't end in the delivery room.