The 113th Congress opened today and most of the first day of work was a celebration of power and privilege.
But this was a nice moment...
Sen. Mark Kirk had a stroke 11 months ago at a relatively young age.
For the record, yes, he did vote against the Affordable Care Act.
He says he has a new view on government-provided care.
"Had I been limited to that I would have had no chance to recover like I did. So unlike before suffering the stroke, I'm much more focused on Medicaid and what my fellow citizens face," Kirk told the Sun Times.
Nearly 250,000 people with brain damage are in nursing homes that are ill equipped to care for them. BusinessWeek reported last week the more expensive facilities are not available to many of them because Medicaid won't pay for it.
For the record, government-provided healthcare is far more than medicaid. Medicaid is largely a method of paying for care, and has limits that can and should be debated. But it also includes medicare (again, a method of payment), and then the ultimate government-run system, the VA, which truly is socialized medicine (facilities government owned, employees government paid). Rehabilitation care in the VA is quite good, and there is no limit to the number of rehabilitation visits. (full disclosure-- I work at the VA, albeit not in stroke care/rehab).
This is a great story and I am glad Mark Kirk has realized that his wonderful recovery was due, in part, to the care he received. Unfortunately there will soon be a cap put in place on therapy services for Medicare patients. People on Medicare will only be able to receive $1900 of outpatient Physical Therapy services a year. A majority of Senator Kirk's rehab was provided in a outpatient setting, and if the cap applied to him, he only would have received a couple weeks of therapy, and he would have never likely climbed those steps. I am a physical therapist that works with people who have suffered from strokes, and if the cap is put in place it will be devastating for their ability to recover and achieve independence.