VOLUME 3, ISSUE 303 | January 15 – 21, 2004
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Protecting AIDS Inc.
January 14, 2004
To the Editor:
I was disappointed to read comments by Housing Works’ lobbyist in response to the Governor’s and New York State Senate Medicaid proposals. (“AIDS Groups Mixed on Medicaid Fix,” by Duncan Osborne, Jan. 8-14). I am always disappointed when AIDS organizations announce that a drastic cutback in health services that hurts poor people is “constructive.”
What is constructive about wrecking havoc in the lives of disabled children? There are almost 500,000 disabled children on Medicaid? This includes disabilities of every sort including AIDS. Many of these children are currently able to receive services in their home through home health care aides and nurses. Most of this care would not be possible if the children are forced into Child Health Plus.
What is constructive about forcing people with AIDS in need of nursing home care being required to have their spouse impoverish him- or herself (selling homes, depleting savings, etc.) before the spouse could receive Medicaid services. Several states (California for example) do not require that both partners impoverish themselves to receive Medicaid.
What is constructive about a Preferred Drug List and requiring seeking Prior Authorization to seek medications that are not on the list? It is based on pure fantasy and has proved a disaster in Michigan and other states for patients. It imagines that Medicaid doctors, the docs with the least time and resources, are going to have the time to pursue alternative medications through bureaucratic channels which, from the physicians we have spoken with, is clearly not the case. Who will suffer? Clearly it will be the poor who are given inappropriate medications because the system cannot accommodate them individuality. We all must fight high drug costs––but at whose expense?
What is constructive about the Senate and the Governor’s proposals to embrace care at home but provide no resources? Oddly enough, the proposal, which was endorsed by leading Senate Democrats, offers no clue as to where the funding for the increased home care resources are going to come from.
Not surprisingly, the Senate and Governor’s proposals leave most AIDS service providers alone. It does not cut back on the generous rates of reimbursement for adult day treatment programs for persons with AIDS. The Special Needs Plans (Medicaid managed care for people with AIDS) will not suffer reductions in rates for care because people with AIDS are being given much more generous treatment than other participants in Medicaid-managed. “COBRA case management” (a Medicaid fee paid to AIDS organizations for case management services) are not touched. All in all, people with AIDS come off pretty well (or at least the service providers do).
The Latino Commission on AIDS obviously has definite institutional self-interests that we vigorously protect for Latino clients and member organizations. Every organization does. Some of us are required to seek special funding from individual legislators just to make ends meet, lacking a huge cash inflow from thrift shops or other private enterprises that some organizations are able to draw support from. We seek support for infrastructure that makes it possible for us to pay the rent and keep the lights on because we lack an independent source of revenue.
But it really is time for the limited organizational and single disease perspectives to change. Just because organizations’ assets are protected does not mean the “reforms” are “constructive” or a benefit to the poor and people with AIDS. There is too much at stake.
Latino Commission on AIDS Manhattan
Transgender Groom Clarifies a Point
January 13, 2004
To the Editor:
My name is Jacob Nash and I was the subject of a legal story in last week’s issue (“No Wedding License for Trans Goom,” by Arthur S. Leonard, Jan. 8-14).
I would like to take this opportunity to correct one thing that many writers have not mentioned in any article regarding our case. It is in regard to our first marriage license application. Upon filling out the paper work to apply for the license, Erin had (in her haste) left out my previous marriage by accident. When I was first told by the magistrate that he was not going to issue us the license, our attorney had asked us to pick up a copy of the application. Upon doing so I really looked it over and I was the one who had noticed that my previous marriage had been left out. I told my attorney and we immediately filed an amended application, before we even had a trial.
In speaking to the prosecutors office (after our hearing), our attorney told us that the prosecutor had told them that if we had never filed an amended form mentioning my previous marriage, the probate judge would have never known! I am an honest man. I do not do things to “get around the system.” If I did, I would have filed for a license in another county. I was told that I had to apply for the license in the county in which I lived, so that is what I did. Because of my honesty, we are being punished. What’s wrong with this picture?
I hope this bit of honest insight helps to shed some light on this particular matter.
Warren, Ohio The South Bronx, Via China
January 13, 2004
To the Editor
I just wanted to thank you so much for the recognition you gave to my autobiographical fantasy “Arturella”(“The Gayest of 2003,” by Brian McCormick, Jan. 1-7).
When I premiered it here in the South Bronx seven years ago in 1996, it was met with great local controversy. That piece had not seen the light of day until Dance Theatre Workshop gave my dance company the opportunity to bring it back to life this past year.
My initial response to McCormick’s words was happiness. Then I felt the sting of my inner homophobia––my reaction was that this is not a “gay classic,” its a universal story! However, when Maria got over it––if you don’t get this joke, then insert Mary instead of Maria––she was able to feel the pride of that universal and ancient story from China making its way all the way over to a Puerto Rican faggot from New Yor-Rico.
It’s an extra honor to be recognized by such a respected member of the dance writing community.
Thank you from my company and me.
South Bronx The President’s Cynical Side
January 13, 2004
To the Editor:
Kudos for your excellent critique of G.W. Bush’s transparent grab for Latino votes (“Compassionate Cynicism 10 Months Before Polls,” by Paul Schindler, Jan. 8-14). Of course, this week he’s shilling for the Cubans in Miami by ranting about Castro at a conference in Monterrey, Mexico. His shamelessness knows no bounds.
A way too conservative gay friend of mine called to tell me he thought that this was a bold, decisive move by Bush. Hardly. It is vile pandering.
Latino voters are quite savvy, and are wary of how this supposedly good measure could put their status of staying in America in jeopardy. “They can be indentured slaves and then go home, just so long as they make sure the economy keeps humming and help me win in November” is George’s m.o.
Society and Individual Responsibility
January 9, 2004
To the Editor:
Michelangelo Signorile is wrong (“Two Second Acts,” Jan. 8-14). I have read his work extensively for a number of years and own copies of his books.
As a result of my own experience, I have also researched HIV extensively and know what does and does not constitute risky behavior. If a straight woman can do this, why can’t a gay man do the same? Why wait on “society” to provide answers when your life may be at stake?
As far as truthfulness between partners; Signorile’s addendum to “Life Outside,” about the Australian Negotiated Safety protocol, does indeed address the issue, albeit in a cursory fashion, and only addresses truthfulness between gay partners and doesn’t address the issue as regards closeted men.
I repeat––living a lie exposes people you ostensibly love to death and disease, as does unprotected sex outside a primary relationship. When it is my life at stake, I deserve the right to make my own decisions about the risk I am willing to assume.
In Arthur S. Leonard’s story last week on his travels in Israel, “Embracing a Nation’s Complications,” young David was hiding from King Saul at En Gedi, not from King Solomon, who was his son. Also, Hannah Senesh was a paratrooper in World War II, not World War I.
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