Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 28, 2013

Area family contends with crippling medical bills

(Continued)

Michigan lawmakers contend they fear the federal government might not keep its promises to fund the program. Others believe Medicaid is the wrong way to go.

“Obamacare double downs on all the dysfunctions of the current health care system,” said Jack McHugh of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank. “Rather than go to the root of the problems, it doubles down on them.”

Schaub said her family personifies deep cracks in the health care system. Her brother qualified for Medicaid only after he died. Munson officials successfully made the argument he was disabled because he was blind in one eye.

At the time of his death, Gokey cared for his ailing father at his dad's dilapidated Maple City home. Ken Gokey suffered a heart attack about a month after his son died and spent 15 days in intensive care at Munson.

Gokey, 72, is now on round-the-clock oxygen and sleeps most of the day in a hospital bed set up in the pantry room of Schaub's tidy, Suttons Bay ranch home. His children and grandchildren take time off from jobs to stay with him, and worry he may repeat a grand mal seizure of a few weeks ago.

In a bedside interview, Gokey said his health insurance never fully covered medical bills. In 1962, his wife fell while pregnant with Bruce. The impact forced Bruce's rib into a lung, causing it to collapse at birth. Blue Cross/Blue Shield refused to cover the $5,000 hospital bill.

“They said they didn’t get the paperwork in time,” he said.

Gokey and his wife paid off the bill over years and socked away $40,000 in savings from his job at the Leelanau County Road Commission. Health problems struck again in 1985, when Schaub's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Six years later, she suffered congestive heart failure and diabetes and died of renal kidney failure in 1992.

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