North Carolina’s Elected Officials Pose Threat to Public Health

Dear Editor:

In December 2001, Governor Easley proudly presented a new prescription drug plan that will cover drugs for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for seniors with an income of less than $17,180 a year and senior couples with incomes less than $23,220. Initially many North Carolina residents felt the Governor and his team were supporting better health for our fine state. However that is a mere fantasy, a smoke screen presented while they rob us. North Carolina has decided to phase out mental health organizations that offer assistance to the indigent and those with Medicaid and Medicare. Our elected officials have decided that mental health care is a matter for the private sector. In addition, the Governor and his “team” have decided to phase out many health care services including hospice, home health, etc. In addition, North Carolina is adding more prescriptions to their “denial” list including Celebrex® and Vioxx® which are anti-inflammatory agents used primarily in the treatment of arthritis. The majority of seniors have some form of arthritis. While our grandparents may be able to receive medication for cardiovascular disease they will not receive assistance with arthritis medications, which over time may cause restricted mobility. When they are not able to walk to the store or bathe, home health will not be able to come to their assistance and when they face the end of their journey here on earth hospice will not be an option for many. In this time of terrorism and war it seems cruel that our government would see fit to deny health care, particularly mental healthcare. There is a large sector that will be affected by these changes and many people will fall through the cracks including the abused wife who cannot afford a visit to a private mental health specialist, or the depressed graduate that cannot locate a job. Sometimes as students, consumed with our future plans we may forget to take a look beyond campus, Cullowhee, or Asheville. With a good education we feel as though the future does not pose a threat. This belief is misleading and dangerous because we could be that senior seeking denied medications or support during our final days.

Deborah HennessySeniorPsychology