Tennessee doctors make a fortune kicking disabled people off Medicare

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/07/piecework-cruelty.html


Now there’s a phrase you don’t hear every day!



If you’ve ever had to deal with an insurance company regarding a denied claim, you will know that they are seemingly purposely obtuse regarding every step of the process. First they will lose the appeal. Then they will misconstrue the appeal. They will myopically view the claim without context, even though they are privy to an entire case history. And then they will delay their responses. They appear to be counting on the patient to just give up, or miss a deadline, or expire.


So, I don’t know how it works for physicians, but when a lawyer gets disbarred sometimes they will work doing things like binding arbitration. They are the “Judge” in the same, but less showy, sense of Judge Judy. In the case I am thinking of, the lawyer’s secretary stole from clients and he got disbarred. This sounds a bit like the MD equivalent. (They might have made a million over a few years, but they could have made more if they were still working their regular practice.)

So I was wondering what these guys did to get stuck doing this. Here is one:

The ALJ determined that a 5-year exclusion was mandatory because Dr. Pennington was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

He contended that the evidence before the ALJ, along with additional material submitted with his appeal, established that he was a drug addict but not a drug dealer.


That was the premise of John Grisham’s The Rainmaker: An evil insurance company denies every claim betting that they’ll save more money on paying out benefits than they’ll end up paying in legal settlements. Sad to see how closely real life still parallels mid-90s legal dramas.


Tennessee? No thanks.

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It’s SOP when dealing with any large bureaucracy. They won’t necessarily say no, they will send you to person A, who sends you to person B, to C, to D, etc. (and possibly back to A, who then sends you to person F, etc.) It can be a labyrinth, and only persistent people will ever get what they want/need.

A university education means that you have likely experienced this, thus a college degree is evidence that you know how to deal with a giant bureaucracy.

An interesting aspect is that if a person gets mad or testy at any point, the worker will hang up or call security and the process stops.


I vaguely recall the Republicans used to have a name for this sort of thing… what was it now…?

Oh yeah. “Death panels”. But only when “socialized” gubbment-controlled medicine decides who gets to live or die. When Tennessee politicians set this up it’s completely different, I’m sure, so let’s call it something else. “Sanctioned senior selection boards”? “Deep care for the disabled”? “Liberty from life” committees?

No doubt some combination of words will eventually be found that will properly combine the high-minded principles of the Old South with modern Republican attitudes towards the poor, the weak, the old, and similar despised minorities.


I’ll add these slimeballs to my ever-growing list of no-value-added middlemen who feed off this broken system.


It’s always good to point out things like this whenever someone mentions “death panels.” The quickest way to get “death panels” is to tie denial of claims to corporate profits. Heck, they don’t even need a panel, just a coke-snortin’ “doctor.”


Why is it that today’s Republicans seem to have such a great affinity for crooks? Is it that old “birds of a feather” principle?



A place so utterly fucking backwards and wretched that they arent even allowed to drink their own whiskey where its made, because of outdated biblical codes of morality (Jack Daniels- made in a dry county. How the fuck the concept of a dry county even exists- hell if I know.)

I expect this kind of backwards shit from them. I’d be surprised if they DIDNT act dumb and cruel, its the (conservative) American way, after all.


I live in Tennessee. When I left my last “normal” job, I did so because I was having suicidal thoughts and was afraid of a possible psychotic break in my near future. So I went to a mental health clinic for a screening. As soon as my diagnosis came out, Tenncare cut off my funding so I couldn’t get therapy. I would have been really in trouble if I had a full-on mental health disability.


I refuse to believe that Tennessee is somehow NOT the worse state in the U.S…

An interesting aspect is that if a person gets mad or testy at any point, the worker will hang up or call security and the process stops.

::pokes the bear:: ::bear growls and swipes back::

“Sir, I can’t help you if you’re going to be irrational and hostile.”

::pokes the bear again::


They seem to have a real competition going with Arizona, Texas, and Florida, among others. Tennessee has popped up on my radar over the last ten years for the batshit legislation that gets proposed there, like teachers and counselors not being able to acknowledge the existence of gay people or enforcing the “natural and ordinary meaning of words.” My old friends in Chattanooga are quite liberal and fed up with the state legislature. The state hasn’t progressed much past the Scopes Monkey Trial.


Sadly, I cannot make a “you are right” joke here. In these kinds of contests, Mississippi gives every other state a run for its money.


That sounds like it was a particularly sucky situation. I hope you’re doing better now.


Yep, it’s even its own adage.


Honestly, I doubt I’ll ever know how I am.