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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bad Contracts: Rushing into reform simply to be able to say "Hey, we passed Healthcare reform"

Bad contracts: A look at Obamacare
By Jodi Hobbs

Mother and home educator/Special Needs/Autism

The first car I purchased was a 1988 five speed Chevette. I loved that car. I still have fond memories of driving a manual transmission with great gas mileage. The only problem with this description is the fact that Chevy stopped production of Chevettes in model year 1987, according to multiple sources. And I can assure you that I spent the first two weeks trying to get it into fifth gear and never succeeded. Probably due to the fact that it was only made in a four speed manual transmission or a three speed automatic. This is the consequence of nineteen year old girls with no automotive knowledge and too much pride attempting to negotiate a verbal car contract with their shift supervisor, a gentleman I hope to this day is ashamed of himself. I like to tell myself that I learned an important lesson at an early age for the $800 I paid for that car. Then I look back 18 months ago when I signed my very first IEP, in essence a contract between a family and the school, detailing the rights and accommodations of my autistic son. I sat in meeting after meeting and naively let myself be told that I didn't need pages of detailed, “fussy” information about each tiny accommodation and all would be best if I allowed the school to handle the fine print. I don't know how that same 19 year old girl ended up in that IEP meeting. I signed off on that first contract and have spent hundreds of hours since trying to fix the errors of my stupidity. 

In October of 2013, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) is scheduled to go into affect – barring a major political upset or lack of funding by Congress. Yes, “Obamacare” as it's known by it's many critics, even successfully navigated The U.S. Supreme Court (2012). Foreseeing the critics looming in the shadows, if you want “expert” legal or health-care related analysis of this new federal program, you can find it debated on nearly any source of media daily. I am a special needs mother and advocate, by love not necessarily by choice, and this column doesn't claim to offer anything else. For those of you still with me, this law simply is not ready to go into action. For an endless number of reasons, not limited to: no one can agree how many pages of regulations exist. Although the original bill that President Obama signed into law is slightly over 900 pages (and full of questionable clauses, which I address in just a moment) the White House then issued further details and endless pages of terms and conditions. Politicians have gone to social media sending out photos and quips about how many thousands of pages still yet had to print. Reputable media sources quoted page counts from 15,000 to 33,000. No one has had time to read this law or process how it's going to be enacted. New committees and agencies were created. Call me a cynic, but none of those actions are historically successful for the U.S. Government when new law is concerned.

Very well, but does any of this involve special needs or autism families? It has to by definition. We are speaking about the largest legal and structural overhaul of the American health system in the last century. And therein lies the problem. No one has had time to agree on the original 900 pages of the bill. Thirteen State Attorney Generals tried to sue the Federal Government to stop this from becoming law. Lawmakers in South Carolina have tried unsuccessfully to make implementing Obamacare illegal in the state. Adding countless thousands of pages in addition is simply madness. There are bound to be policies that contradict or impose unreasonable penalties on seeking reasonable medical care.

For example, look at one clause in the original bill signed by President Obama that concerns me:


(J) establish a coordinated system of early identification and referral for children at risk for developmental or behavioral problems such as through the use of infolines, health information technology, or other means as determined by the Secretary;

Is it just me or does anyone else notice the B-R-O-A-D vagueness and general lack of detail about how “Community Support Teams” (i.e. Federal agents) will be identifying “at risk” children? Or what will be done with the information? Does this mean if I have a preemie that my baby will go on a registry with the federal government to be 'watched'? Or if my child has low Apgar scores that a federally-funded nurse will show up at my door to inspect my child? Where will this data be kept? For how long? Who will have access to it and for what reasons? The questions are endless.

Now, is there truly likely to be an iron nurse at my front door to inspect my two special needs children flanked by federal troops bearing arms? Doubtful, at best. But those in the media, health-care, legal and special needs/autism communities who have watched this disaster unfold have some well-founded fears and concerns. This is America, after all. We like our Bill of Rights, our Right to Bear Arms and any other piece of the constitution we can work in the conversation. We also have the right to have clear, understandable laws that spell out the relationship between the citizen and our “voluntary” government services.

Jodi Hobbs is a soon to be single mother and home educator to two special needs/autistic children who teach her everyday that the legendary box never even existed, but the possibilities within the minds of our children can transform the world. She is a fierce believer in mental health access and treatment being basic human rights. She blogs at and is a regular contributor to Her Facebook page can be found at I did NOT sign up for this Special Needs Parenting and you may follow her on Twitter @JHobbsSaunders. Jodi welcomes reader opinions and comments at

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