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News coverage causes both problem and solution
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Dec. 12, 2000 -- An admiring newspaper profile on Thanksgiving Day weekend attracted a lot of favorable attention for David Jayne, a Georgia man who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, sometimes called "Lou Gehrig's Disease) and who occasionally gives talks at his church and civic groups.

It also attracted the wrong kind of attention from the wrong kind of bureaucrat: After reading reporter Bill Torpy's story about Jaynes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, officials at Healthfield Home Health service - which since 1997 had sent an attendant to Jayne's home four times a week to help him get out of bed and shower - notified him that they were cutting off the service. Why? If he could go out and make speeches, Healthfield said, the father of two was no longer "homebound," thus ineligible for the Medicare-funded services.

That made no sense to Jayne, who said, "I'm not going to stop living just to get shower help four times a week."

In a Dec. 5 editorial titled "Health care bureaucracy goes awry," The Journal-Constitution's outrated editors fumed: "David Jayne has struggled valiantly to overcome the isolation and helplessness brought on by one of the cruelest diseases known to humankind. To deny him essential services to which he ought to be entitled because he refuses to lie still and be a 'good' paralytic, as regulations require, flies in the face of simple decency."

In the weeks that followed, David Jaynes' representative in Congress was able to get his services restored. That's good news. But good news for one individual fortunate enough to get news coverage and Congressional attention offers little solace to the thousands of other disabled people who remain captive to a system that, as the Atlanta newspaper said, "flies in the face of simple decency."

Bill Torpy's first (Nov. 26) story about Jayne is at:

And his follow-up story on Dec. 2 about the denial of service is at:

The newspaper's editorial will be found at:

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