Suppose you’re a South Dakotan, and you’re having trouble getting necessary health care because of some federal rule. Who do you think is more likely to solve your problem: a member of your Congressional delegation or the President of the United States?
Betty Beyer grew up in Aberdeen and taught in Chester. She and her now-departed husband Maury ran Marrs Beach on Lake Madison through summer 2000. Beyer is spending her retirement back here in Aberdeen, organizing for the retired teachers association, making teddy bears and other crafty wonders for family and friends, and refusing to sit around and do nothing.
Last year, though, Beyer’s bad hip made even sitting a real pain. Beyer’s doctor said she needed a new hip, but the Avera Dakota Plains Surgical Center on the northwest corner of town said they couldn’t they couldn’t do the operation right away. The Avera folks said new Medicare rules required that she had to wait twelve weeks before the doctors could deem her hip replacement necessary and bill Medicare for the procedure. Even though Beyer was in obvious pain, and even though the hip replacement would alleviate that pain, Uncle Sam apparently was saying, “Sit and suffer.”
Beyer preferred to do neither. She wrote to Rep. Kristi Noem, Senator John Thune, and Senator Mike Rounds. On August 26, 2015, Beyer also penned her plight to President Barack Obama:
From Noem, Thune, and Rounds, Beyer got calls and commiseration. From the White House, Beyer got action. The White House passed her letter on to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She received several calls from the CMS Regional Office in Denver, which oversees Region 8, including South Dakota.
And on October 22, 2015, Beyer received this letter from Region 8 Administrator Jeff Hinson:
Hinson’s office found that the Avera doctors had been looking at rule guidance that had been issued for Colorado but not for South Dakota. The 12-week-wait rule did not apply to South Dakota. Beyer’s doctors could schedule Beyer’s hip replacement without further delay.
When Beyer went back to the surgical center, two staff members greeted her with, “You’re the one who wrote the letter!” The staff weren’t displeased; quite the contrary—they were happy that Beyer’s efforts had clarified a rule that had been delaying needed treatment for numerous patients.
None of our Congressional delegation took the time to find this answer. President Obama did. The White House sent Beyer’s letter to the right people who could find the right answer and thus spared numerous South Dakotans needless suffering.
Thank you, Betty, and thank you, Barack—Mr. President.