The long run

Harrison Walter (#575) competes on his school’s
cross-country and track teams. Photo | Hal Walter

The Walter family’s struggle with autism came in for a little attention in the press over the weekend.

My friends Hal and Mary and their son Harrison have been enduring the tender mercies of the Medical-Industrial Complex as mom and dad strive to get their teenager the expensive behavioral therapy that may help him with the impulse-control issues common among the neurodiverse.

Harrison focused on his schoolwork. Photo | Rebekah Cravens

Regan Foster of The Pueblo Chieftain — where Hal and I first met back in the Eighties — wrote about the Walters’ difficulties in a straight news piece and a more personal sidebar; both made the newspaper’s home page this morning.

The details of this particular tale of woe may be new to you, but the overarching theme is all too familiar: What happens when circumstances upend a hard-working American family that earns a bit too much to qualify for public assistance, but not enough to cover the out-of-pocket costs associated with private insurance?

“A $3,000 deductible plus a 30 percent co-pay is the same as not having insurance, except you have to pay for the insurance,” said Hal.

Harrison is designated as disabled, but does not qualify for a Children’s Extended Services waiver for Medicaid because his sleep habits, “while not great, are not entirely horrible,” according to Hal.

The amount of paperwork required in raising a neurodiverse kid (like appealing a Medicaid waiver denial) would be enough to put anyone to sleep.

That this is a stumbling block instead of a side note seems absurd; Harrison’s abilities as a student and athlete can be offset by his impulsive, occasionally violent behavior, which seems a greater concern for society than how many Z’s the family bags nightly. Someone is definitely on the nod here, and it’s not the Walters, who are appealing the decision to deny a CES waiver.

Hal and Mary are both long-distance runners, with all the stamina that requires and then some, but theirs is a race against time. Harrison is 13 going on 14, and as special-ed teacher Carrie Driver notes: “We have four and a half years to get him ready for life and to give him skills that are appropriate for him to be independent.”

• Editor’s note: You can read more at Hal’s blog, Hardscrabble Times (which is updated irregularly), and in his column at Colorado Central.

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15 Responses to “The long run”

  1. Mark Rothschild Says:

    “Donny Death Care”….

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    That is a shame, and it’s a predicament many families find themselves in. Donnie dip shit doesn’t care because he has never experienced anything like this, and he doesn’t care to learn about it. The only way he would fix health care, which is really complicated, is if he could do it in five minutes and make himself look good. I got an emergency room bill for the doctor who treated me. The bill was $997, but they took $112 as full payment from Medicare and BC/BS. Nobody really nows what health care actually costs and Congress doesn’t give a shit. I say Medicare for all who want it. Let the insurance companies handle the supplemental plans only.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      A shame indeed, Pat. Typical, too, it seems. When we lived in Weirdcliffe we either did without insurance or had some catastrophic policy that would pay off if a Russian satellite crashed onto my helmet during a ride but that was about it.

      It was always cash on the barrelhead for my albuterol, the annual post-Interbike sinus infection, dentistry, and chiropractic care … which pretty much constituted my entire business relationship with the Medical-Industrial Complex.

  3. Not Jusak Says:

    Health noncare. Read Hal’s story earlier. Health care and drug companies are in cahoots. My brother has need serious back surgery for ~ 4 years now. He’s been to multiple doctors and PTs and all say he needs to have it fixed. But his insurance company would rather he continue to take opioids for the pain. He’s an addict and doesn’t want to be one. Every couple months he tries cold turkey to see if he can take the pain but gets the its and vomits uncontrollably.
    Me it’s my neck. Doc says an X-ray is not enough need an MRI. Insurance won’t cover it because no one has prescribed a NASIDs. What does O’Grady say ‘Oy!’

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Oy, indeed. They feed you dope and shove you out the door. And to think that when I was a kid I thought military medicine was cold and impersonal. At least it was free.

      What’d you do to your neck? Did The Geek give you the Instanbul Twist?

      • Not Jusak Says:

        Years of using my head for thing it shouldn’t be used for like carrying bags of concrete like the african women. That plus a few encounters with the ground falling off my bike. Just life!

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I feel your pain, O my brother. I have so many old wounds I can’t possibly catalog them all, and if I dare complain, why, Herself will be happy to give me a few new ones to keep them company.

  4. Hal Walter Says:

    Really refreshing to see someone like Regan Foster really dig in and do substantive journalism on a topic obviously so close to home it’s actually in my home. Where does this go from here? Stay tuned. It’s not so much about Harrison as it is about awareness, compassion and empathy. If our society as a whole were able to practice those things, “healthcare” wouldn’t even be a political issue.

  5. B Lester Says:

    Insurance passed the tipping point decades ago. I live in Paul Ryan’s district (the dick). This opinion piece ran in our shared hometown newspaper, although I doubt Paul read it. Written by a retired MD, a guy who knows, marking plain sense.

  6. Mark Rothschild Says:

    True Fact…Ryan’s 1’st Job,..”Driving the Weinermobile”

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