Jun 282011

This made me almost sick with outrage.

As low-income families experience growing economic hardship, many are finding that applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments on the basis of mental disability is the only way to survive. It is more generous than welfare, and it virtually ensures that the family will also qualify for Medicaid. According to MIT economics professor David Autor, “This has become the new welfare.” Hospitals and state welfare agencies also have incentives to encourage uninsured families to apply for SSI payments, since hospitals will get paid and states will save money by shifting welfare costs to the federal government.

Growing numbers of for-profit firms specialize in helping poor families apply forSSI benefits. But to qualify nearly always requires that applicants, including children, be taking psychoactive drugs. According to a New York Times story, a Rutgers University study found that children from low-income families are four times as likely as privately insured children to receive antipsychotic medicines.

In December 2006 a four-year-old child named Rebecca Riley died in a small town near Boston from a combination of Clonidine and Depakote, which she had been prescribed, along with Seroquel, to treat “ADHD” and “bipolar disorder”—diagnoses she received when she was two years old. Clonidine was approved by the FDA for treating high blood pressure. Depakote was approved for treating epilepsy and acute mania in bipolar disorder. Seroquel was approved for treating schizophrenia and acute mania. None of the three was approved to treat ADHD or for long-term use in bipolar disorder, and none was approved for children Rebecca’s age. Rebecca’s two older siblings had been given the same diagnoses and were each taking three psychoactive drugs. The parents had obtained SSIbenefits for the siblings and for themselves, and were applying for benefits for Rebecca when she died. The family’s total income from SSI was about $30,000 per year.

In the bad old days impoverished parents sold children into slavery or prostitution to survive.  Now they can get by just by poisoning them with psychoactive drugs.  Progress!

From a not-to-be-missed two-part article by Marcia Angell in The New York Review of Books. (First part here, second part here.)  Hat-tip to Jerry Coyne, who provides a useful summary.

 Posted by at 08:04

  2 Responses to “Moral Progress!”

  1. Christ.

    When I was practicing as a legal aid attorney, lots of my clients had extremely serious disabilities, and they frequently were denied SSI when they applied. It would often take over a year to even get a hearing on the denial (I hear it’s a lot longer now). It makes total sense that the reason there wasn’t enough money to go to disabled people who were obviously incapable of supporting themselves is because regular welfare had been gutted and SSI was being used to take up the slack.

  2. Holy shit. I thought parents denying children education for profit was as bad as it got nowadays (on such a massive scale, that is; individual cases of selling and prostituting one’s children are still with us, obviously).

    When is society going to wake up to the fact that breeders are the most likely perpetrators of harm to their children? Child abuse, exploitation, and of course, bringing them into existence in the first place. But no, let’s all worry about stranger danger and act as if sprogging causes people to have their offspring’s best interests at heart, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.

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