Opinions on experimental cancer treatments
Experimental cancer treatments are very expensive, with no guarantee they'll be effective. On the other hand, most patients and their families will try anything to extend their lives. This is taxpayer money at stake: What do you, the taxpayers, say? Tell us what you think.
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September 15, 1999
Since this is our money (taxpayers) I strongly feel that collectively something should be done to change this decision. He absolutely should be granted the money to try and save his life. This is a disgrace. Is there no recourse???
Here is my "two cents" on the situation. $93,000 to save a little boys life. $93,000 divided by about 5 million Massachusetts residents = $0.019. That's less than two cents per person! Save him!
P. Greene, Needham
Let us all say a prayer that our Lord will come to David Stewart?s aid. I hope our governor will see this article and grant David the funds out of the rainy day fund . I can?t see a more fitting purpose for these funds in saving a young boy?s life.
I am upset that David's caretakers rely on state's decision of payment in order do go through with the treatment. I don't care how poor I am, I would be selling everything I have to raise the money. We are talking about $90,000. I would sell my house, my car, my pets, my liver, my lungs, everything I own. If that wasn't enough, I would start some media campaign to get donations. I am sure that sensitive story like this would have thousands of people sending little bit of money for this boy. We are talking about boy's life. I can not understand that his life may end without $90,000. 90k is not a lot for a life, even if it's just a chance of life.
Medicaid is no better than Dr. Kevorkian they are worse this isn't the patients choice to die. When this child passes away the person who made the decision not to allow this CHILD to have the treatment should be tried for Manslaughter. I am a Republican who believes in cutting welfare for lazy people, not treatment (experimental or not). Perhaps if Peter Blute and the rest of the Public Officials weren't allowed to waste STATE money on booze cruises and cars, we would have the STATE money to give an 11 year old the chance to live.
D Hurton, Clearwater, Fla.
Have Massport sell their SUV's and give the money to the child. More bureaucratic interference from the unknowing.
Cecelia E. Cutone, Malden
I think it is terrible that this treatment is being denied. Here is a chance (maybe it won't work) but a chance to give an 11 year old boy a chance at life. It's ok to waste tax payer's money for frivolous and ridiculous things, but to try and save a boy's life it's not. Whoever the people are who make this decision obviously don't have any heart or feelings. How do they sleep at night? They shouldn't get another peaceful night's sleep if he dies and they didn't try to help him.
I'd expect this type of decision by a private HMO and not of Medicaid. Here's another reason why HMO's and Medicaid should be held liable and accountable in their client's deaths!! Medicaid is for those who do not have access to other health insurance plans - what do we tell all of the individuals in the Commonwealth who do not have health insurance or who only are able to get Medicaid -- their life and their children's lives are not worthy of saving under any circumstance or that they are not worthy of experimental treatment or any treatement -- it begins with experimental treatments and then before you know it routine treatments will then be denied. If this family's appeal is again denied, it would only seem fitting that the Globe lead the way in a fundraiser to ensure that this child (and who knows many more children) gets this treatment or any treatment that would extend their beautiful lives. I'd gladly donate.
Liz Swenson, Braintree
As a taxpayer, I'd like to see my tax dollars spent on the child. I cannot believe that the state is denying this. I agree that if the child belonged to someone in the government, it would have been approved. No one asks to be born rich or poor. It's not this child's fault that he needs medicaid.
I much rather see my tax dollars going to help a sick child than to be spent on booze cruises and parties within the government.
R. Rose, Salisbury
Experimental drugs should only be given as a last resort when everything else fails and the age of the person should be taken into account. In this case, I feel this child should be given a chance at life. God only knows the Commonwealth spends taxpayer's money for other idiotic things. This would be money well spent. But then again, nothing surprises me in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Bharat Karia, West Roxbury
Everything possible should be done to preserve a life.
How can the state (or a private insurer) decide who can live and who can die?
Kathleen Wood, Somerville
How much is a life worth?
There is no garantee the treatment will be effective, but more importantly, there is no garantee that it will NOT be effective.
As long as the patient wants the treatment, the treatment should be given. One day one of these "experimental" treatments might hit on something more definite.
I know that if I were in that situation, I'd like to at least have the choice.
This is disgraceful, the state should of course pay for the boy's care...if it was a 90 year old I might think differently but an 11 year old boy with his whole life to live should be given every chance. Experimental procedures are beneficial to the entire community eventually, the state should support people choosing to risk their lives for the good of all.
Nancy H., Winchester
Who is Medicaid to decide that David's life is not worth trying to save. What if it was one of their own children. As a parent it breaks my heart to see this opportunity denied him. Our children are our future. The financial status of his family should not be a factor in determining his future. The amount of tax money that is wasted in this state is inexcuseable. $93K to save a boys life shouldn't even be an issue.
This is the type of taxpayer spending I can support, unlike buying Ford Expeditions (Eddie Bauer at $40K) for governmental officials.
Liz Saul, Newton
I would like to know what kind of medical experts the Commonwealth's Medicaid Group has working for it that they can make this determination. I believe that every individual has the right to choose when to fight a deadly disease and when it's time to give up.
My father was treated at the Dana Farber Center several years ago and underwent experimental treatment. It may have only prolonged his life by 12 -18 months, but it allowed him the opportunity to watch the youngest of his four daughters graduate from college. He was the one who made the decision, not some Bureaucrat with no medical expertise.
Also I would prefer to have my tax dollars spent to save an 11 year olds life than to ferry a bunch of State Employees, appointees and lobbyists around on a booze cruise.
Sharon Frigon, Lynn
I believe that as long as there is some hope that he can be helped the treatment should be allowed.
Mary-Ann Buker, Avon
How dare anyone decide that an 11-yr-old boy does not deserve another chance to live? Besides, I can't think of a better way to spend the money accumulated through our strong economy. Managed healthcare in this country is a disgrace. Are we really going to let life/death decisions depend on premiums? It's time we stepped back from this situation and make the changes that are so necessary. In the words of Mother Theresa: "Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living!"
To the gentlemen who stated we should dip into our own wallets and pay for this child's treatment, I have two questions for him, 1. How would you feel if it were your child and 2. Where do I donate my contribution.
Carol Kelly, Bedford
This experimental cancer treatment may or may not help
David, but it WILL help all the rest of us and any
members of our families who might be unfortunate
enought to develop this deadly disease. Without
these trial we will not be able to get the data
that is critical to determine the effectiveness of
the treatment. Denying anyone who is willing to
participate in trials like this one is shortsighted.
This sickens me, who do these board members think they
are? What right do they have to deny someone, especially
a child, the possibilty for a cure. I'm sure that if it was
one of them or a family member or friend then they would
find a way to bypass the committee. Then again something
like being denied from this board would never happen to
them because they all have money. This is another case of
the rich trying to show their "power" over the not-so-rich.
I hope they think of what they are doing, think of this boy's
family, friends and other patients with cancer.
You so-called board members ought to be ashamed that you
could even think of dening this boy a chance at life.
You all make me sick, and for the other readers who have
placed messages here saying things such as "suck it up" and
"put your money where your mouth is", what are you people
idiots? You are just as bad as those board members. You are
the sick people here. What would you do if the board said
it would no longer pay for your prozac? How would that make you
feel? We live in a messed up society where we pay millions of
dollars for programs like the Turnpike Authority but they
won't spend money to save a boys life. This is total
outrage and the members of the board should be replaced by
people with a concience.
Pay the damn bills and let the boy have a chance at life !!
Nola Dennis, Nashville, Tenn.
I recently moved from Boston and often visit the Globe web site for my Boston fix - miss it terribly!!!
I feel that we spend soooo much tax money on things that seem frivolous - experimental treatment for cancer and other illnesses is so very important - to the person suffering as well as future generations. What more noble and worthwhile use of tax money could there be (I know there are others but this ranks pretty high on my list.) If I was ever seriously ill, I would want the option to pursue every avenue available.
I think the system is totally messed up. What right do they have to decide a little boys future!
It's not like the money is coming out of their own paychecks. You know if it were one of their
own, no amount of money would be too high, no treatment would be too controversial!
Anne Catarius, Everett
Only God can determine life and death. We must reprioritize what is important in life. This child absolutely deserves the chance to life. Every life is precious. As a taxpayer, I have no problem with the money going to such a cause. It is definitely more important than another "outing" for Massport. We have a responsibility to take care of each other. Remember, any one of us could be in this position one day.
I have three boys of my own and couldn't imagine not being able to explore any and all options to keep them alive - god forbid anything like this ever happened to them. The state uses our tax dollars to keep criminals in jail and it won't use them to possibly help save an innocent child's life?
Michele Campbell, Weymouth
David seems to be doomed to be left to die because
he is poor.
Private insurance companies are willing to cover
this experimental treatment but the state is not
All treatment at one time was experimental.
If David and his family are willing, the state
should pick up the tab.
V. Yonker, North Attleborough
I would not be here today if my doctors hadn't taken a chance 6 years ago. I had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and was in the 4th stages, on death's door and the doctor told my mother the cancer will kill her if we don't try this(this was extreme chemo 2 times the legal dose). I spent 3 months in the hospital and it was agony but this coming October I will be celebrating 6 years remission and all thanks to some doctors who were willing to take a chance. I would like to add that I was a patient at Dana Faber and just think the world of the staff and doctors.
Frank Gerry, Boston
This is an 11 year old boy we're talking about.
How can anyone even think about not doing everything
possible to save his life. And the same goes for every
other person that is in a similar situation.
As a taxpayer and voter of this state I want our
elected officials to know, people are more important
than money. Don't EVER forget that!!!!!!!!!!!
I think they should allow David the chance to
receive the experimental care. What good is
Medicare if it really won't give individuals who
need it a fighting chance to survive.
Granted, the experimental drugs are risky. However,
he is going to die VERY soon if he doesn't take
this risk. Therefore, it isnt a risk for him at
all but a hope for life.
I wish we could donate the money fast enough for
him to get it.
Kathy Brennan, Brockton
If the child in question was a child of one of
board members, they'd pay for first-class airline
Dennis Paradis, Amherst
I'm in favor of trying experimental treatments on patients that are terminally ill and are willing. We
may be delaying or preventing the finding of a cure.
The cost would be worth while if a cure were found and
it saved lives.
Yvonne Gaskin, Tampa, Fla.
How much government money is wasted on things that don't
even come close to possibly saving the life of a child.
They've tried everything else.... as taxpayers, we
should pay for this.
Michael Eccleston, Marshfield
The treatment should be allowed.If the boy dies because
of medicaids decision not to allow the treatment then
whoever made the decision should be charged with
murder. On another matter rumor has it that Sandy Tennant
was given an office at Massport. Is that legal?
My husband was given no hope 6 years ago. He had terminal lung cancer. He was offered a bone marrow transplant (at that time it was concidered experimental)for lung cancer. Today, thanks to the transplant he is in complete remission. He was 47 years old at the time and his father and sister both died of lung cancer at 47. Thank God for doctors that are willing to take the chance to help those willing to fight for their lives. What right do insurance companies or the goverment have to take that decision away from people. What gives them the right to play God!
Margie Sagan, Roslindale
If it's his only chance at life, he must take it! We pay for insurance exacly for these reasons, that's what insurance is all about. They have so much money that they can certainly spare this amount to save a child's life! Even if this is taxpayer money, the state spends money on much more frivolous things than a chance at life.
Nancy Cribari, Rowley
This is an appalling and totally unacceptable situation- I wonder what the decision makers would have decided had that child been one of theirs? This is a gross example of the outrageous inequity in the US health care system - this child will die because his dad can't afford private medical insurance??? Are yoU kidding me???!!!!!!In the scheme of things, $93,000 is nothing - how much tax money is squandered by bureaucrats throwing parties, etc. at tax payer expense. As a taxpayer, I want this money spent to save this child and any other individual in a similar situation. Take the money from the Mass Pike Authority or the Christmas decoration fund - anywhere - just don't let kids die because they don't have enough medical insurance. This nation should hang its collective head in shame because of the inequities in the health care system. We are the only industrialized nation on the earth where this can happen.
G. Santos, Boston
I can't believe that the state would chose for this child
to die instead of picking up the tab for him to live.
This state has had an incredible decrease in the amount
of people on public assistance, which means that there is
more money to be used for procedures such as these. You would
think that a program called "MassHealth" would actually
be interested in keeping people healthy, especially children.
Just another example of bureaucrats denying those who need
help the most. If the money for Masshealth isn't used for
healthcare for those who can't afford it, what is it being
used for? Another MASSPORT booze cruise?
Andrew Grimes, Reading
Pay for the operation!!!!!!!!!
Give me a copy of the state budget and I will find 1000 line items in 5 minutes that spent more than $93,000 on far less useful things. How much did the Peter Blute boat cruise cost? What are we paying to maintain the Big Dig tourist office by the aquarium? How about trading in 2 of those state SUV's at $40,000+ apiece. That would just about cover it. We'll give the all important pubahs Subaru Imprezas instead. You should be able to get a used but reliable Subaru with 4 wheel drive for under $10,000, and it will take you almost anywhere an Eddie Bauer Explorer would, certainly anywhere in the Commonwealth.
Kara Markham, Sandwich
I think it is ridiculous that the state will not cover this! Children are our future and we should do everything to assist in their nurturing and development. The article states that this could be David's last chance of survival. Why does this make it to risky? Is it to risky to possibly grant a eleven year old boy the gift that we all seem to take for granted- life? I understand that he has state funded medical insurance and that it comes out of our taxes, but I would be much happier assisting in an experimental cancer treaatment than funding The Big Dig which to me is just a BIG waste of money. What are we going to get out of that- nicer highways? Great- instead of helping a child fight the hardest battle of his young life, I get to take the train into South Station eveyday and look at a big pile of mud. My views may seem narrowminded, but I am a 24 year old with a conscience. I feel ashamed that someone in this state spoke for me, as a taxpayer, and called this treatment "to risky." Is there any way we, the public, can help?
David Brittan, Somerville
If there's a reasonable hope of success (greater than,
say, a 5% or a 10% chance), I would like to see my tax
dollars go toward experimental treatments. In the case
David Stewart of Sandwich, this seems like money well spent.
Paul Brandano, Lynn
A year ago next thursday, I lost my mother to multiple forms of cancer. She died primarily of lung cancer with later cancer developments in her bones, brain, hearts, and many other araes. I am 21 years old and I am a senior at Boston college. I have a twin brother ( alos at BC) and a sister who is 19. My mother was sick for 3 years. In three years she was able to give my sister the attention she needed in formative years, while seeing her sons go to college and begin life on their own. She was able to spend three final years with her husband, and in the last year of her sickness see her 25th wedding anniversary. Without experimental treatment, my mother, Joyce Brandano, was given three months to live. I struggle to hold in my emotion as I am at work, but sincerely hope that something will be done for this poor boy. Imagine the things he will miss if he isn't given the chance. I think memories like those are surely worth $93,000...
I would like to offer some aid to the family if possible. I am only a college student, but would like to offer anything I can. I am ashamed and embarassed for a state that would let this child die without a chance.
Christopher J. Currie, Ashland
What a disgrace. Here is an 11 year old in need of a life saving treatment, and there is some jackass denying him coverage because it is experimental. So, this person decides if this 11 year old lives or dies. This makes me sick. Why don't we have this person tell this boy why he must die instead of sending him paperwork denying him coverage. This is what is wrong with our society. We should be helping each other, but no, we have to keep destroying all that is good. What a disgrace. Someone should set up a fund so he can have a chance in this battle.