On April 1, 2007, a tiny baby girl, weighing less 600 gms, (a pound and a feather) born crack addicted and arriving to a young teenage mother was taken by Child Protective Services the minute she was born. Too premature to subsist on her own, she was rushed from delivery to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in a hospital in San Antonio, TX. Though they had the authority to justify doing nothing, physicians opted to place tubes, wires and machines on every speck of that child's body on the guise of fighting for her life. So, six weeks later, still a ward of the state, she has doubled her birth weight. That's a remarkable feat, percentage-wise. The little girl has proven herself to be a fighter, though she is far from out of the woods, her job now is just to incubate. That's the warm, fuzzy human side of the story.
From the perspective of the practical side of use of government funds, the pharmacy bill alone for this "miracle" exceeded $850,000 during this past six weeks. That doesn't begin to take into account the cost for the hospital, doctors, including the micro preemie specialists on duty round the clock. A medical bill to date of $1.6 million is an estimate of the charges. That's $1.6 million per pound. In a climate where only 10% of all children categorized as being under the poverty line are insured through Medicaid in Texas, with the public demanding more and more tax cuts, and an obliging governor ever ready to comply, one has to wonder what is so distinctive about this child to warrant such attention.
Even with the use of every device known to modern medicine employed in her behalf, the odds of her escaping devastating physical and mental handicaps, the cost for which will inure to the taxpayers in the state of Texas in perpetuity, is far more likely than not. Understand that the costs will not abate even if this child passes in adulthood, because the precedent as been set. A week ago, an even smaller girl made the controlled panic trip from delivery to NICU, and her bills promise to be even larger.
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