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Health Plan Robs Poor of Dignity

November 20, 1994

Recently, it has come to my attention that Orange County residents who are on both Medicare and Medi-Cal will have their Medi-Cal portion moved into a county program called Optima and will be assigned to an HMO or consortium, apparently without any say as to where they will be assigned.

As a result, I could be forced to leave the family doctor whom I have been seeing for 25-30 years and whom I can reach easily by bus and go to another doctor, perhaps one who is harder for me to reach. I do not like government interfering with my patient-doctor relationship.

I get my prescriptions at a pharmacy within walking distance of my residence. Under Optima, I could be assigned to a more distant pharmacy. With all the problems I have had in my lifetime, I do not need government making my life more complicated.

There is also the matter of self-determination. Poor people have many choices removed from their lives. They cannot take a trip to Grand Canyon or Wild Animal Park or go see a ballet or a circus or a special museum exhibit or do any of a number of things; the cost is too high. It is difficult to replace worn-out clothes and household linens--never mind thinking about a VCR or a computer.

Many times, the poor cannot even choose where to live.

Under Medicare and Medi-Cal, health care has been one area in which the poor person has been able to exercise self-determination. For government to tell people they have to go into HMOs and for corporate executives to ration health care is removing yet one more of the few opportunities for self-determination that are left to the poor person. Every opportunity for choice that is removed is a blow to the individual's human dignity. Those of our seniors who worked hard, "paid their dues" and ended up poor because of hard luck deserve better than to have their human dignity chipped away.

JUANITA MATASSA

Santa Ana

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