Terri Schaivo RIP
I'm glad it's all over for her. . .
Now for the fall out . . .
Life is a confluence of contradictions, not to be resolved, but embraced
I like to speculate. So there . . .
Love is one of those mysterious and fascinating things. Everyone knows what it is or what its about, yet we're all painfully deficient in our understanding of it.
Democracy Cell Project is organizing a filiblog to raise our voices against the threatened nuclear option. Read this post to find out what you can do.
MSNBC's Question of the Day: Do you think removing a feeding tube is unethical in all cases?
First, here's the definitive order of picks. Made prior to the beginning of the top 12.
Via Left Coaster: "Turning Pain into Profit
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and JOHN SCHWARTZ
ASHINGTON, March 28 - The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.
"These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri," says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father. "These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"
Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish.
I've followed the Intelligent Design debate somewhat over the past few months. Those of us committed to common sense watch with alarm as the Right has moved in force to establish Intelligent Design as science in schools. They claim that evolution is only a theory and as such, diclaimers should be made clear to kids regarding the the "theory of evolution." Further still, they insist that alternative accounts of origins, such as ID theory should be offered to students and considered on par with evolutionary theories.
The beloved spousal unit takes particular delight in eggs benedict and so I decided to try my hand at that after many, many years. Years ago, I was a line cook at fine dining restaraunt. I worked with actual trained chefs, so I picked up quite a bit and still love cooking.
With Sarbanes Retiring, Senate Interest Simmers
By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 28, 2005; Page B01
Barely two weeks after Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D) announced he would retire at the end of his term, the field for Maryland's 2006 U.S. Senate race has begun to take shape -- with three prominent Democrats and a leading Republican seriously considering bids.
Former Democratic congressman and NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume waited just three days before printing up campaign signs and entering the race. Democratic Party officials said last week that they believe Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen will run as well.
Top state and national Republican officials, meanwhile, have been pressing Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele to become their party's nominee for the Senate seat that's been occupied by one man for nearly three decades.
"I think all of them recognize that, given how long it's been since one of these seats was open, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Barbara Hoffman, a former Democratic state senator who has discussed the race with Cardin and Van Hollen. "They know it's time."
Although Mfume was first into the race, he said in an interview Saturday that he recognizes he will face a fierce battle for the nomination. To prepare, he said, he spent the first full week forming a campaign apparatus, including reaching decisions about strategists and fundraisers that "will include names that are familiar to everyone."
"Paul [Sarbanes] caught everyone off guard," Mfume said. "We had to drop everything we were doing and get started. But right now I'm very energized. I haven't felt like this since 1979," the year he first ran for Baltimore City Council.
While other Democrats have voiced interest in the race, Cardin and Van Hollen have taken significant steps to put their Senate campaigns in motion. Both said in interviews that they expect to poll shortly to test their name recognition and performance in possible matchups.
Van Hollen, a former state senator from Kensington in his second term representing Maryland's 8th Congressional District, attended a labor rally in Baltimore County last week and announced that he had brought in veteran Democratic operative Michael Morrill to "play an active role as the exploratory team communicates with Democrats around the state." Morrill was communications director for former governor Parris N. Glendening (D).
Van Hollen sent a letter to supporters Tuesday, asking for financial help and seeking "input and support as I seriously and actively explore this possibility."
Cardin, a former speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, is in his 10th term representing Maryland's 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties. He said repeatedly during an interview last week that he "will not run away from a tough battle."
His effort to drive home that point was intended to challenge perceptions that he is unwilling to take risks with his career. Last week, Maryland GOP Chairman John Kane called him "Congressman Cold Feet" because twice in the past 20 years -- in 1985 and 1997 -- Cardin expressed interest in runs for governor but backed out.
"There was no way I could win those races," Cardin said during the interview in Annapolis, which he gave after conducting a town hall-style meeting for two dozen constituents on the subject of Social Security reform. "At the time, my supporters told me not to get in. And if I had gotten in, I would have lost."
That is not what his supporters are telling him this time, Cardin said. "It's only been nine days, but in those nine days it's been very encouraging. I'm feeling very confident that my record will appeal to the voters of this state. I'm convinced of that."
Though it's too soon to tell exactly how the field will look -- several other Democratic potential candidates, including Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Elijah E. Cummings, are pondering their options -- veteran Maryland political observers said last week that the contest will test several long-standing political assumptions about race and geography.
For Mfume to win a three-way Democratic primary, he will have to find backing beyond the black communities in Baltimore and Prince George's County, said Timothy Maloney, a former state delegate who practices law in Prince George's. For Cardin to succeed, he will need to strike a chord with voters in the Washington suburbs who have had little exposure to him over the years. And for Van Hollen to prevail, he will have to disabuse Baltimore voters of the notion that Montgomery County breeds politicians who are wealthy and aloof.
Two decades ago, Del. William A. Bronrott (D-Montgomery) helped organize then-Rep. Michael Barnes's attempt to mount a bid for the U.S. Senate after Barnes served in the 8th District House seat Van Hollen occupies. Bronrott said he believes the perception of Montgomery "as a gold-plated place" helped seal Barnes's defeat.
"It will be interesting to see how much Maryland has changed in 20 years," Bronrott said.
Unlike the Democrats, Kane said his party is going to take its time sorting out who will run. He does not deny that his party's sights are on Steele, especially since Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has taken himself out of consideration, committing to seeking a second term in state government.
Steele confirmed in a brief interview that he has been called by national party and elected officials, though he would not name them.
"There's something appealing about it," Steele said of the race. "I'm seriously at the point where I'm ready to entertain a conversation on this."
Steele's departure to run for Senate would, in part, hinge on the impact to Ehrlich's reelection bid. Ehrlich essentially launched Steele's political career by selecting him as a running mate.
Hoffman said that although she can understand the GOP's interest in anointing Steele, he is not a battle-tested candidate. His election to statewide office, the first for a black candidate in Maryland, came on a ticket with Ehrlich. She noted that three Maryland lieutenant governors have run statewide, and all three lost.
Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Queen Anne's), who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) last year, said he has not decided whether to try for the seat. But he thought his chances would be greatly improved from his last attempt.
"An open seat creates a whole different dynamic," he said.
Psalm 107 is a favorite of mine because of the recurring refrain:
Hosea 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
19: And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20: Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
By TOM ZUCCO, Times Staff Writer
Published March 23, 2005
They wear robes, sandals and cell phones.
And to be precise, they are friars, not monks.
For the past week, three members of a tiny ministry based in St. Paul, Minn., have been at the side of the Schindler family as it fights to have Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted.
The three from Franciscan Brothers of Peace, which has just 10 total members, have appeared with Bob and Mary Schindler on the steps of the federal courthouse in Tampa, and outside Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park.
They have come to Florida, they say, because they are staunch right-to-life supporters, because they can help raise money for the Schindlers, and because of what happened to Brother Michael.
In 1982, Michael Gaworski founded the order.
The fledgling group took over a former convent and the Brothers began collecting food and clothing for the needy, ministering to international survivors of torture, witnessing at a juvenile detention center and conducting sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics.
Gaworski suffered a heart attack in 1991 that left him in a condition similar to that of Terri Schiavo - with severe brain damage and dependent on a feeding tube for nourishment. For the next 12 years, the friars cared for Gaworski in their downtown St. Paul friary.
"Through his condition," Brother John Kaspari said Tuesday from St. Paul, "we came to embrace others in similar states."
Gaworski contracted pneumonia and died in 2003 at age 45.
"He would have required intubation to keep him alive," Kaspari said. "We chose not to go that route. His lungs were full of fluid."
The order, affiliated with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, became involved with the Schiavo case last fall after one of its members heard Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo's brother, speak at a National Right to Life convention in Washington, D.C. The Brothers offered their assistance.
Kaspari said that the Brothers have become close to the Schindler family and that although they have tried to visit Terri Schiavo, they have been denied access.
Besides moral support, the Brothers also offer an option to those who want to donate money to the Schindlers. Although funds are raised directly through the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation, private donations are not tax-deductible.
"But we are a tax-exempt organization," Kaspari said. "People send funds to us, and we turn it around and distribute the funds as needed. For instance, we recently ran a newspaper ad and used the funds to pay for it."
As for their dress, the Brothers wear robes - or more correctly, habits - "to depict the vow of poverty and simplicity," Kaspari said. "And to be a recognizable instrument of God."
© Copyright 2003 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved
Turns out chief hypocrite Tom Delay has some explaining to do:
By Walter F. Roche Jr. and Sam Howe Verhovek
Times Staff Writer
6:03 PM PST, March 26, 2005
CANYON LAKE, Texas — A family tragedy unfolding in a Texas hospital during the fall of 1988 was a private ordeal -- without judges, emergency sessions of Congress or the raging debate outside Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice.
The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family standing vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman -- U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
More than 16 years ago, far from the political passions that have defined the Schiavo controversy, the DeLay family endured its own wrenching end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and a ventilator, was DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay.
Then, freshly re-elected to a third term in the House, DeLay waited all but helpless for the verdict of doctors.
Today, as House Majority Leader, DeLay has teamed with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., to champion political intervention the Schaivo case. He pushed emergency legislation through congress to shift the legal case from Florida state courts to the federal judiciary.
And he is among the strongest advocates of keeping the woman, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, connected to her feeding tube. DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube.
In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die.
"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way he (Charles) wanted to live like that. Tom knew, we all knew, his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."
Doctors advised that he would "basically be a vegetable," said the congressman's aunt, JoAnne DeLay.
When the man's kidneys failed, the DeLay family decided against connecting him to a dialysis machine. "Extraordinary measures to prolong life were not initiated," said his medical report, citing "agreement with the family's wishes." His bedside chart carried the instruction: "Do Not Resuscitate."
On Dec. 14, 1988, the senior DeLay "expired with his family in attendance."
"The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's," said a spokesman for DeLay, who declined requests for an interview.
"The only thing keeping her alive is the food and water we all need to survive. His father was on a ventilator and other machines to sustain him," said Dan Allen, DeLay's news aide.
There were also these similarities: Both stricken patients were severely brain damaged. Both were incapable of surviving without continuing medical assistance. Both were said to have expressed a desire to be spared life sustained by machine. And neither left a living will.
This previously unpublished account of the majority leader's personal brush with life-ending decisions was assembled from court files, medical records and interviews with family members.
It was a pleasant late afternoon in the Hill Country of Texas on Nov. 17, 1988.
At the home of Charles and Maxine DeLay, set on a limestone bluff of cedars and live oaks above Turkey Cove, it also was a moment of triumph.
Charles and his brother, Jerry DeLay, two avid tinkerers, had just finished work on a new backyard tram -- an elevator-like device to carry passengers from the house down a 200-foot slope to the blue-green waters of Canyon Lake.
The two men called for their wives to hop aboard. Charles pushed the button and the maiden run began. Within seconds a horrific screeching noise echoed across the still lake, "a sickening sound," said a neighbor. The tram was in trouble.
Maxine, seated up front in the four-passenger trolley, said her husband repeatedly tried to engage the emergency brake but the rail car kept picking up speed. Halfway down the bank it was free-wheeling, according to accident investigators.
Moments later, it jumped the track and slammed into a tree, scattering passengers and twisted debris in all directions.
"It was awful, just awful," recalled Karl Braddick, now 86, the DeLays' neighbor at the time and a family friend. "I came running over, and it was a terrible sight."
He called for emergency help. Rescue workers had trouble bringing injured victims up the steep terrain. Jerry's wife, JoAnne, suffered broken bones and a shattered elbow. Charles, hurled head-first into a tree, clearly was in serious condition.
"He was all but gone," said Braddick, gesturing at the spot of the accident as he offered a visitor a ride down to the lake in his own tram. "He would have been better off if he'd died right there and then."
But Charles DeLay hung on. In the ambulance on his way to the New Braunfels hospital 15 miles away, he tried to speak.
"He wasn't making any sense; it was mainly just cuss words," recalled Maxine with a faint, fond smile.
His grave condition dictated a short stay at the local hospital. Four hours later, he was airlifted by helicopter to the medical center at Fort Sam Houston. Admission records show he arrived with multiple injuries, including broken ribs and a brain hemorrhage.
Tom DeLay flew to his father's bedside where, along with his two brothers and a sister, they joined Maxine. In the weeks that followed, the congressman made repeated trips back from Washington, D.C., his family said. Maxine seldom left her husband's side.
"Mama stayed at the hospital with him all the time. Oh, it was terrible for everyone," said Alvina (Vi) Skogen, a former sister-in-law of the congressman. Neighbor Braddick visited the hospital and said it seemed very clear to everyone there was little prospect of recovery.
"He had no consciousness that I could see," Braddick said. "He did a bit of moaning and groaning, I guess, but you could see there was no way he was coming back."
Maxine DeLay agreed that she was never aware of any consciousness on her husband's part during the long days of her bedside vigil -- with one possible exception.
"Whenever Randy walked into the room, his heart, his pulse rate would go up a little bit," she said of their son, Randall, the congressman's younger brother, who lives near Houston.
Over a period of days, doctors conducted a series of tests, including scans of his head, face, neck and abdomen. They checked for lung damage, performing a bronchoscopy and later a tracheotomy to assist his breathing. But the procedures could not prevent steady deterioration.
Then, infections complicated the senior DeLay's fight for life. Finally, his organs began to fail. The family and physicians confronted the dreaded choice so many other Americans have faced: to make heroic efforts, or to let the end come.
"Daddy did not want to be a vegetable," said Skogen, one of his daughters-in-law at the time. "There was no decision for the family to make. He made it for them."
The preliminary decision to withhold dialysis and other treatments fell to Maxine along with Randall and her daughter Tena -- and, his mother, said, "Tom went along." He raised no objection, she said.
Family members said they prayed.
Jerry DeLay "felt terribly about the accident," said his wife, JoAnne DeLay. "He prayed that if (Charles) couldn't have quality of life that God would take him -- and that is exactly what He did."
Charles Ray DeLay died at 3:17 a.m., according to his death certificate, 27 days after plummeting down the hillside.
The family then turned to lawyers.
In 1990 the DeLays filed suit against Midcap Bearing Corporation of San Antonio and Lovejoy Inc. of Illinois, the distributor and maker of a coupling that they said failed and caused the tram to hurtle out of control down the steep bank.
The family's wrongful death lawsuit accused the companies of negligence and sought actual and punitive damages. Lawyers for the companies denied the allegations and countersued the surviving designer of the tram system, Jerry DeLay.
The case thrust Congressman DeLay into decidedly unfamiliar territory -- the list of plaintiffs on the front page of a civil complaint. He is an outspoken defender of business against what he calls the crippling effects of "predatory, self-serving litigation."
The DeLay family litigation sought unspecified compensation for, among other things, the dead father's "physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and trauma," and the mother's grief, sorrow and loss of companionship.
Their lawsuit also alleged violations of the Texas product liability law.
The DeLay case moved slowly through the Texas judicial system, accumulating more than 500 pages of motions, affidavits and disclosures over nearly three years. Among the affidavits was one filed by the congressman, but family members said he had little direct involvement in the lawsuit, leaving that to his attorney brother, Randall.
Rep. DeLay, who since has taken a leading role promoting congressional tort reform, wants to rein in trial lawyers to protect American business from what he calls "frivolous, parasitic lawsuits" that raise insurance premiums and "kill jobs."
In September, he expressed something less than warm sentiment for attorneys when he took the floor of the House to condemn trial lawyers who, he said, "get fat off the pain (of plaintiffs and off) the hard work (of defendants)."
Aides for DeLay defended his role as a plaintiff in the family lawsuit, saying he did not follow the legal case and was not aware of its final outcome.
The case was resolved in 1993 with payment of an undisclosed sum of about $250,000, according to sources familiar with an out of court settlement. DeLay signed over his share of any proceeds to his mother, said DeLay aides.
Three years later, DeLay cosponsored a bill specifically designed to override state laws on product liability such as the one cited in his family's lawsuit. The legislation provided sweeping exemptions for sellers of such products.
The 1996 bill was rejected by President Clinton.
In his veto message the president said he objected to the DeLay-backed measure because it "tilts against American families and would deprive them of the ability to recover fully when they are injured by a defective product."'
After her husband's death, Maxine DeLay scrapped the mangled tram at the bottom of the hill and sold the family lake house.
Today she lives alone in a Houston senior citizen residence. Like much of the country, she follows news developments in the Schiavo case and her congressman son's recently prominent role.
She acknowledges questions that compare her family's decision in 1988 to the Schiavo conflict today with a slight smile. "It's certainly interesting, isn't it?"
Like her son, she believes there might be hope for Terri Schiavo's recovery. That's what makes her family's experience different, she says. Charles had no hope.
"There was no chance he was ever coming back," she said.
Verhovek reported from Canyon Lake, Texas; Roche reported from Washington, D.C. Also contributing to this report were Times researchers Lianne Hart in San Antonio and Nona Yates in Los Angeles.
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
Good Fridays are so stange because it is the most solemn day of the year, but for everyone else it's just another day. It does get weird trying to balance the gravity with normal interactions.
19: For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
I was asked a couple of weeks back if I would be willing to participate in the parish's foot washing ritual on Holy Thursday. I laughed because, pastor may be loving and all, but you do not want to be exposed to my feet. Trust me.
1: Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.
Anyone else notice how the Florida Bishops Conference statement of February 15, 2005 is being pushed out of sight?
I'm not being flip here, but all this has me thinking. We all know how this situation will end. The tube will not be reinstated and Terri will pass into life. The self-induced apocalyptic fervor of the pro-lifers has reached unprecedented proportions and as some have proclaimed this "the new Roe v Wade" for them.
I heard a little girl today say, "Oh look, a picture of the last dinner!"
Zechariah 4: 1-14
Then there was a lady whom John Henry had met through his sisters. "In all this goodly array," Tom Mozley remembered, "there was not a grander or more ornamental figure than Maria Rosina Giberne. She was . . . the prima dona of the company. Tall, strong of build, with aquiline nose, well-formed mouth, penetrating eyes, and a luxuriance of glossy black hair, she would command attention anywhere." . . . She was entirely devoted to Newman--perhaps in love with him--who responded to her vivacious temperment with sensible caution. Though the had more than one serious quarrel she remained through thick and thin his fervent disciple. She entered a Convent after she became a Catholic and died in France a few years before Newman, his spiritual daughter to the end.
Frist wrote a book in 1989 called Transplant where he advocated changing the definition of "brain dead" to include anencephalic babies. Anencephalic babies are in the same state as Terri Schiavo except that she suffered a physical trauma that put her into a vegetative state while the anencephalic babies are born that way.
This remarkable discovery buttresses the argument that Frist's advocacy for Schiavo is wholly political. How does he explain this remarkable inconsistency? Here is the relevant passage on Frist as quoted by the New Republic in 2003:
"And, although Frist writes frequently about the ethical issues surrounding transplants--for example, the question of when death begins--he approaches these issues in starkly scientific terms, with little patience for religious objections.
"Near the end of the book, for example, Frist suggests changing the legal definition of 'brain death' to include anencephalic babies, who are born with a fatal neurological disorder but show just the slightest hint of brain-stem activity. Such a change would make it possible to harvest their organs for transplant--something the Catholic Church and pro-life groups oppose. 'Three thousand anencephalic babies were born a year, enough to solve our demand many times over--but we never used them.'" [The New Republic, 1/27/03]
Detroit Free Press Via Steve Gillard
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- A Michigan lawmaker is working on legislation that would prohibit a spouse having an affair from denying food, fluids or medical treatment to a wife or husband who cannot make such decisions.
Rep. Joel Sheltrown on Tuesday said he wants to avoid a situation similar to Terri Schiavo's.
The 41-year-old Florida woman has relied on a feeding tube to keep her alive since suffering severe brain damage in 1990. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, has fought for years to have her feeding tube removed because he said she would not want to be kept alive artificially.
The tube was disconnected Friday on the orders of a state judge, and a federal judge on Tuesday refused to order it reinserted.
Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, appealed the decision the same day to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, warning that their daughter was "fading quickly" and might die at any moment.
The Schindlers have said Michael Schiavo wants their daughter dead so he can marry his longtime girlfriend, with whom he has young children. They have begged him to divorce their daughter and let them care for her.
Sheltrown, a Democrat from West Branch, said Michigan should strengthen its protections before a similar situation happens here.
"While people, in happier times, may trust their spouses to make future medical decisions for them, situations change," Sheltrown said in a statement. "In a situation where an incapacitated patient lives at the mercy of an adulterous spouse, it is in the patient's interest to make a presumption in favor of life."
Michigan law already prohibits the denial of life-sustaining treatment, such as food and water, unless the patient has expressed that such action be taken, said Sheltrown, who expects to introduce the bill in about three weeks.
Matt Resch, spokesman for Republican House Speaker Craig DeRoche of Novi, said House leaders will review the bill when it is introduced and decide which committee to assign it.
Howard Brody, a professor at Michigan State University's Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, said it would be irresponsible to take up legislation related to Terri Schiavo's case as it continues to develop.
Brody said the current judicial process to consider such issues is a good one.
"Who would be the person to best know Terri's wishes and who could best report to us what Terri wanted? That person might well be the person who lived with Terri day in and day out," said Brody, who added that a court has not stopped Michael Schiavo from being his wife's legal guardian.
"Who are we to say that they're wrong?"
Schiavo Case Puts Face on Rising Medical Costs
GOP Leaders Try to Cut Spending as They Fight to Save One of Program's Patients
By Jonathan Weisman and Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 23, 2005; Page A13
As Republican leaders in Congress move to trim billions of dollars from the Medicaid health program, they are simultaneously intervening to save the life of possibly the highest-profile Medicaid patient: Terri Schiavo.
The Schiavo case may put a human face on the problem of rising medical costs, both at the state and federal levels. In Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is pushing a dramatic restructuring of the Medicaid program, the cost of Schiavo's care has become political fodder. In Washington, where a fight over Medicaid spending threatens to scuttle the 2006 budget plan, the role of the program in preserving Schiavo's life is beginning to receive attention.
"At every opportunity, [House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay has sanctimoniously proclaimed his concern for the well-being of Terri Schiavo, saying he is only trying to ensure she has the chance 'we all deserve,' " the liberal Center for American Progress said in a statement Monday, echoing complaints of Democratic lawmakers and medical ethicists. "Just last week, DeLay marshaled a budget resolution through the House of Representatives that would cut funding for Medicaid by at least $15 billion, threatening the quality of care for people like Terri Schiavo."
DeLay spokesman Dan Allen fired back: "The fact that they're tying a life issue to the budget process shows just how disconnected Democrats are to reality."
Lawyers for Schiavo's husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, have said repeatedly that Medicaid finances her drug costs, but it is not entirely clear how dependent Schiavo's caregivers are on the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled. In 1993, Michael Schiavo received a medical malpractice judgment of more than $750,000 in his wife's name, according to a report by her court-appointed guardian ad litem. The money was placed in a trust fund administered by an independent trustee for Schiavo's care.
Michael Schiavo's lawyers have said that $40,000 to $50,000 remains. Patient care at the Florida hospice where Schiavo lives averages about $80,000 a year, but the hospice now pays for much of her care. For two years, Medicaid has covered other medical costs, including prescription drugs, the attorneys have said in published reports.
Medicaid's share of Schiavo's care "is a big chunk," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who until this year was involved in the case as a state senator. "Governor Bush and President Bush are both professing deep concern for the rights of one disabled person, yet their rhetoric doesn't match their actions," she said.
Florida's Medicaid program is expected to cost about $14 billion this year, with the state covering 41 percent of the budget, said Jonathan Burns, spokesman for the state Agency for Health Care Administration. For every $1 Florida spends on Medicaid, it receives about $1.44 from the federal government in matching funds.
The governor has proposed limiting Medicaid spending and in essence giving each beneficiary a voucher to shop for a health plan. Advocates for the poor and disabled contend the approach would leave the most vulnerable without adequate coverage.
If it passes, "I guess Mrs. Schiavo or someone on her staff would have to find a network that will take care of her for the amount of money" the state provides, said Andrew Schneider, a Washington-based health care consultant who specializes in Medicaid.
In Washington, House Republicans approved a budget resolution for 2006 last week that would order $15 billion to $20 billion in Medicaid savings over the next five years. But when Senate leaders tried to follow suit with a budget that trimmed $14 billion from Medicaid, 52 senators balked. The Senate and House differences over the program may jeopardize lawmakers' ability to craft a budget this year, thus threatening all of President Bush's cost-cutting efforts.
Ron Pollack, executive director of the health care advocacy group Families USA, denounced the "two ironies" of the situation.
"At the same time congressional leaders were trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive, they voted to cut the Medicaid program that keeps many millions of people alive," he said in an interview. Jeb Bush, meanwhile, "is grandstanding about Terri Schiavo at the same time he is pushing real hard to place a limit on the dollars available for people's care, including care like Terri Schiavo is receiving," he said.
Republicans say such rhetoric further complicates the unavoidable task of controlling Medicaid's growth. "Too many people would rather resort to scare tactics than have a constructive conversation about ways to fix the nation's long-term budget crisis," said Gayle Osterberg, spokeswoman for the Senate Budget Committee.
The cost of care in cases such as Schiavo's has vexed governments for years. In 1999, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush signed a law establishing procedures for hospitals and physicians to withhold life-sustaining care from patients with conditions deemed hopeless, even over relatives' protests. The legislation affords a family 10 days' notice to find another facility. Last week, Texas Children's Hospital in Houston invoked the law to remove a 6-month-old boy from his breathing tube against his mother's wishes.
It was a Republican, Rep. Steve King (Iowa), who first brought the issue of Schiavo's Medicaid support to Washington. On the House floor Sunday, he blasted Woodside Hospice, where Schiavo lives, for allegedly bilking Medicaid, citing a Government Accountability Office audit that he said ordered the company to repay $14.8 million in "inappropriately collected" fees.
The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast Inc., which operates Woodside, was cited in 1996 for nearly $15 million in payments for ineligible beneficiaries and patients who may not have been terminally ill. But the issue was Medicare charges, not Medicaid, and the investigator was the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general.
Mike Bell, a company spokesman, said the not-for-profit did not have to repay any money. The investigation, which involved several hospice care providers, "led to clarification and directions going forward," he said.
But King was making a point other Republicans have argued: that waste and fraud can be wrung out of the Medicaid system without sacrificing patient care -- but only if Congress gives states more flexibility.
Said Osterberg: "The reason for the budget seeking . . . administrative modifications is to ensure the program is more efficient and financially sound moving forward, so that beneficiaries don't have to be kicked off down the road."
I can't believe anyone would have time to watch this show. But I will indulge those who have time for such frivolity and give you the benefit of my analysis. For the record, I do not watch the show, I merely observe it:
Scandal of Particularity lists 9 theses on interpreting Scripture, which got me thinking.
Zechariah Chapter 3
1: And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
2: And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
3: Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
4: And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
5: And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.
6: And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying,
7: Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
8: Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.
9: For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10: In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.
7: And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
8: But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
9: Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Alan Greenspan's Presidential Point Spread
• The new GQ magazine features a nearly naked, blond young actress named Jessica Alba on its cover, but that wasn't the reason Washingtonians were hot to get their hands on a copy yesterday. Nope, the chatter was about an article on the inscrutable Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan. His morning bathing rituals are detailed therein -- he likes to write speeches in the tub -- but the really eye-catching material comes from a secondhand Greenspan quote offered by his friend of 50 years, Charles Brunie.
In an interview with GQ writer Wil Hylton, Brunie recounts a dinner conversation with Milton Friedman and Greenspan. Says Brunie: "I asked the two geniuses, 'Of all the politicians you have known, how would you rank their intellectual ability?' And Milton said, 'Well, on a Bo Derek scale . . . Nixon was a nine, and Reagan's a seven -- ' and Alan interrupted, 'No, no, Milton. Reagan's not a seven. He's a four!' Milton said, 'Alan, what do you mean by four?' Alan said, 'Well, Gerry Ford's a four.' And Milton said, 'I don't know what that means.' And Alan said, 'Well, if you gave Gerry Ford a series of data, no matter what the series was, he could not develop a concept. And Reagan is the same.' ''
But we have a bigger question: Where does Jessica Alba rank on the Bo Derek scale?
Learning to Stand Out Among the Standouts
Some Asian Americans Say Colleges Expect More From Them
By Jay Mathews
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page A10
Robert Shaw, an educational consultant based in Garden City, N.Y., was working with a very bright Chinese American student who feared the Ivy League would not notice her at New Jersey's Holmdel High, where 22 percent of the students were Asian American, and she was only in the top 20 percent of her high-scoring class.
So, Shaw said, she and her parents took his daring advice to change their address. They moved 10 miles north to Keyport, N.J., where the average SAT score was 300 points lower and there were almost no Asians. She also entered, at his suggestion, the Miss Teen New Jersey contest, not a typical activity for the budding scholar.
It worked, Shaw said. His client became class valedictorian, won the talent portion of the Miss Teen competition playing piano and got into Yale and MIT.
"As admissions strategists, our experience is that Asian Americans must meet higher objective standards, such as SAT scores and GPAs, and higher subjective standards than the rest of the applicant pool," he said. "Our students need to do a lot more in order to stand out."
Asian American students have higher average SAT scores than any other government-monitored ethnic group, and selective colleges routinely reject them in favor of African American, Hispanic and even white applicants with lower scores in order to have more diverse campuses and make up for past discrimination.
Many Asian Americans and some educators wonder: Is that fair? Why shouldn't young people of Asian descent have more of an advantage in the selective college admissions system for being violin-playing, science-fair winning, high-scoring achievers?