As patients suffer, companies profit

Day after day, Heather Powell lay in bed, in pain, in her small San Antonio apartment. For two years she languished there, staring at the ceiling, watching cop dramas on Netflix, surfing the Internet with a computer mouse tucked under her chin.

She had been almost completely paralyzed from the neck down in a shooting more than a decade earlier. These days she found some joy in the only human relationships she had left, with the helpers who washed her body and cooked her food and laughed at her jokes.

A state program was supposed to give Powell, now 38, enough help so she could live at home, rather than in a nursing home. But the hydraulic lift that moved her to the shower or a wheelchair broke, trapping her in bed.

There was no sign of the special mattress her doctors had prescribed to relieve pain and prevent the sores that can kill immobilized people. No sign of the gadget that would allow her to turn on the lights or adjust the thermostat with her voice — even after a nurse hired by the state wrote a scathing report about Powell’s suffering.

Last spring came the cruelest cut. Superior HealthPlan, the company Texas paid to manage her care, said it was cutting the hours of the aides who helped her get through each day. Rather than spending 12 hours a day with her, they would be around for just seven.

– Dallas News

Read the full article here.