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Cuts to Medicaid define feeding tubes and respirators as "optional."

Patients who are losing feeding tubes and other equipment have been told they can file appeals. But the results to date are less than encouraging. As of last Wednesday, 1,048 people had filed appealed. Of the 427 appeals hearings held, the patient lost in 396 of them.

Peggy Bishop of Theodosia, Mo. appealed the loss of her Medicaid coverage. Mrs. Bishop depends on a battery of medical equipment, including a nebulizer that shoots medicine directly into her lungs.

Mrs. Bishop submitted a half-dozen letters from doctors attesting to her need for care. The letters were "irrelevant," an administrative hearing officer decided.

Jan Everett, whose 21-year-old son, Joey, depends on a feeding tube to get nutritional formula, said her request for an exception was denied. An appeal still is pending. The feeding tube is the only way that Joey can eat. He can’t swallow because of a traumatic brain injury he suffered in an auto accident four years ago

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