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Rolly: Obamacare defunders don't want to hear this story

Published September 23, 2013 10:20 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

We've all been treated lately to the circus-like antics from self-serving politicians chest-thumping about defunding Obamacare, Republicans like Sen. Mike Lee using that battle cry as a punch line for his constant stream of fundraising emails and the governor and Legislature waiting to decide whether to accept federal money for Medicaid expansion.

But here is the story of a real person with real needs who, through no fault of his own, has no job, no income, no health insurance and a severely challenging medical condition who the Mike Lees, Ted Cruzes and other tea party bloviators don't want to hear about.

Bart Combe is a 53-year-old single man with no children living in his household who has multiple sclerosis and lost his job as an industrial electrician last year because of his deteriorating condition.

"I have been employed and have paid taxes since the age of 15," he wrote in a letter to Gov. Gary Herbert last month. "I have always had medical insurance and have paid my share of the premiums through my employer."

After he was laid off in August, 2012 due to his worsening medical condition, he received unemployment assistance for six months, while applying for many jobs and attending several job fairs, only to be turned down once his medical condition was revealed.

He was able to use his unemployment benefits to pay for his $486-per month Cobra insurance, but he didn't make enough to meet his $920 mortgage payments and lost his home.

He applied for other financial assistance and medical coverage through Medicaid, but he was denied because he made too much on unemployment.

When his unemployment ran out after six months, he applied again for financial assistance through the Utah Department of Workforce Services because of a policy that requires an applicant to wait six months after a denial before he or she can be reevaluated.

He applied again for Medicaid, but was denied because he is not "totally or permanently disabled."

He applied for a hearing in May but was denied because he had applied for disability payments through Social Security and a final determination of that application had not been made. After that denial, Social Security turned him down, too.

He applied a third time for financial assistance through Workforce Services but was denied again because he now is living with a friend, while having no income of his own.

He was told to look into the High Risk Insurance Pool (HIPUtah), but his cost for that is estimated at $980 a month with a $5,000 deductible.

He was told he could apply for federal assistance that would cover 25 percent of his monthly premium, but he still would have to pay $735 a month.

So now he has no medical insurance and no prescription coverage and the retail cost of his daily injections of Copaxone, an MS drug, is $3,200 a month.

He was told the only way to get the injections is to go to a hospital emergency room.

The governor's spokesperson, Ally Isom, said Herbert appointed a working group to study the Medicaid expansion issue and he is waiting to get all the facts to make "the right decision."

Meanwhile, Mike Lee distributed yet another email Friday asking for campaign contributions to help him defund Obamacare.

prolly@sltrib.com