Healthcare is Sick

Is there a cure?

Multiple Sclerosis: We have come far, but still have further to go

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[listen to a portion of my interview with Margarita here]

One day in 1987, when Margarita Feliciano was 38 years old, she started feeling “kind of off.”

“My girlfriend told me I was walking like I was drunk,” she said.  “But I wasn’t drinking.”

She was soon diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an often debilitating disease that attacks the central nervous system and impairs muscle movements, such as walking or talking.

“When I found out, my heart went down.  I was miserable,” she said.  “I was ready to give up on life.”

After several months she had to use a walker, and by 1988 she was paralyzed.  An estimated 400,000 Americans are affected by MS in some way.  Some like Margarita are permanently paralyzed, while others are only mildly affected.  There is currently no cure, although drugs developed over the last several decades can slow the disease’s progression.

These medical breakthroughs have been extremely expensive.  In 2004, the National MS Society estimated the disease cost America $23 billion due to medical care and lost wages, averaging out to $57,500 per person.

Margarita said her quality of life is improved by these new treatments.  Beginning in 1996 she began receiving a shot several time a week, which made her condition “much better.”

Mass Health, which provides health insurance for low income people, pays for these treatments and for Margarita to reside in Northampton’s Calvin Coolidge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center full time.    Without this assistance, Margarita said her condition would be unbearable.

Currently 25-30 percent of people with MS are in Medicare nationwide.


Written by Chris Russell

November 5, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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