Kadner: Cost of Jackson’s illness as important as the cause
Phil Kadner email@example.com | (708) 633-6787 August 13, 2012 7:54PM
Updated: September 15, 2012 6:15AM
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd) is suffering from bipolar II depression, according to a statement released by the Mayo Clinic on Monday at the congressman’s request.
“Bipolar II is a treatable condition that affects parts of the brain controlling emotion, thought and drives and is most likely caused by a complex set of genetic and environmental factors.
“Congressman Jackson underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2004. This type of surgery is increasingly common in the U.S. and can change how the body absorbs food, liquids, vitamins, nutrients and medications.
“Congressman Jackson has asked Mayo Clinic to distribute this information on his behalf...No time frame is specified for another update on Congressman Jackson’s condition.”
The release refers readers to a Mayo Clinic website to obtain more information about bipolar II disorders.
That site states that millions of people have bipolar disorder and it is a treatable disease.
“People with bipolar disorder have extreme mood swings.”
Bipolar II disorder is considered less severe than bipolar I because instead of full-blown mania, elevated swings that may make normal functioning impossible, the patients experience hypomania, a “less severe form of mania.”
There have been so many leaks, family statements, factoids and deliberately vague descriptions about Jackson’s condition that I don’t know what to make of them all.
I do know there remains a belief among many people I’ve spoken with that Jackson is somehow trying to evade responsibility for misconduct or even criminal prosecution.
And there are some people who think he’s planning not to run for re-election in November, perhaps naming his wife, Chicago Ald. Sandy Jackson (7th), as a replacement.
I have no real insight to provide about any of this.
But while others have called for full disclosure from Jackson about his illness, ability to serve and his future political plans, I have another point I would like to emphasize.
I would like Jackson to release all of his medical bills.
I would like U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who suffered a stroke, to do the same.
That’s because there’s an important debate going on in this country over health insurance and whether government should pay the cost.
Kirk’and Jackson’s health insurance is paid for by the government.
Kirk opposes the Affordable Care Act, passed under the Obama administration, while Jackson has been an advocate for national health insurance.
As someone who has advocated on behalf of readers whose family members have faced a medical crisis, often resulting in a family financial crisis, I believe I have a better understanding than most of the problems inherent in the current system.
Even people who are insured often have problems getting their insurance companies to approve medical care and prescription drug costs that later can cause greater economic hardship.
Obtaining mental health care under the current system is difficult, if not impossible, for many people.
I know of one case where two insurance companies transferred a mental patient repeatedly back and forth, each claiming the other was responsible for approving his mental health treatment.
He was kept on the phone for nearly 90 minutes answering questions about his mental illness.
And this person was undergoing a mental breakdown at the time.
“That’s typical,” I was told by a psychologist’s business office staff. “I think they do that deliberately to our patients to keep them from submitting bills.”
Jackson, at the Mayo Clinic, and Kirk, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, received top-notch medical care.
I believe elected officials owe us an explanation about why they deserve that sort of care, covered by health insurance, and the rest of us do not.
And I think Americans ought to see the costs involved so they can decide for themselves if something less expensive would be acceptable for their loved ones.
Full disclosure in these two cases is far more important, in my opinion, than seeing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns for 10 years.
I understand that under the Affordable Care Act, mental illness would be treated just like any other illness, a landmark evaluation in health care for Americans.
What’s quality heath care really worth? I believe Kirk and Jackson know the answer to that.