HOUSTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The clock is running out for a Texas woman ensnared by the state's 10-day rule.
If Carolyn Jones' family cannot successfully navigate the bureaucratic complexities of the U.S. Medicaid system that would pay for her convalescent care by this Monday, the hospital currently providing her care will allow her to die.
"I'm beyond frustrated," said Kina Jones, 32, Carolyn Jones' daughter, who took time from planning her mother's pending funeral to talk to Church Militant. "My mother never harmed a person in her life, and she's getting less consideration from her hospital than murderers in prison."
Carolyn Jones is the latest Texas resident whose life is threatened by the Texas Advanced Directives Act (TADA), which allows a hospital ethics committee to refuse necessary care to patients without their prior consent or against the will of their family, legal executor and/or personally expressed wishes of the patient.
Once the committee makes its determination to terminate life-sustaining care for any reason, the legal 10-day stop clock begins. Reasons may include medical opinions but as well as financial considerations if the patient's care fails to pass the hospital's cost-benefit analysis.
In fact, the ethics committee doesn't require a patient suffer from terminal illness to stop providing medical services.
Once the 10-day clock expires, the hospital has the final say on ceasing basic patient care even if their decision violates the wishes of the patient and his/her loved ones. Additionally, once the 10-day window has closed, the patient and family have no legal recourse to defy what amounts to a hospital death panel.
Carolyn, a 61-year-old Beaumont resident, suffered a stroke in December 2017. Her subsequent medical care has included stays in several facilities before transferring to Memorial Hermann Southwest in Houston in November 2018.
Carolyn's journey to recovery is complicated by preexisting diabetes that has required many years of dialysis. Rendered verbally incommunicative due to an intubation tube attached to a ventilator, Jones can interact with family members and medical staff using other means, including eye movement, weeping and displays of physical discomfort.
"My mother has been on and off a ventilator many times since her stroke," Kina said. "With a little more time, she probably could've been taken off it again."
According to Texas Right to Life, Carolyn has made steady progress since February that could render her ventilator unnecessary. Despite these positive developments, Memorial Hermann invoked the 10-day rule in March.
Carolyn's husband, Donald Jones, was able to obtain legal counsel before the deadline expired. He is attempting the same strategy in this instance, but the court date is scheduled only two days prior to the deadline. Donald's testimony in front of the Texas Committee on Health and Human Services can be viewed here.
Should his legal ploy fail, Donald only has two days to secure assurances his wife's medical bills would be covered if she's transferred to another facility. Currently, three other medical facilities in Houston have expressed willingness to take over her care provided the Jones are able to acquire Medicaid funding.
"Twenty-two people have been allowed to die already and my mother will be the 23rd because of the Texas law and hospitals that only care about their bottom line," Kina said. "That means 22 other families have had to go through the heartbreak my father and I are now going through."
She continued: "Not one of the 22 people who have died belonged to a senator's family or anybody with a lot of money. This law hurts those of us who aren't wealthy, but belong to families who get up and go to work every morning who aren't being treated as humans, but more like animals."
Texas' TADA rule has drawn moral objections from right-to-life groups in the past, including last year when Church Militant extensively covered attempts to rescind the 1999 law.
As noted in the March report, however, these groups' efforts are undermined by the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has staunchly supported TADA on the grounds extended care sometimes prolongs patient suffering unnecessarily.
Church Militant reported, "Currently, no other state in the country has a law that gives such wide-ranging power to hospitals to determine the fate of patients, and critics say what's happening here is no more than creeping involuntary euthanasia."
Kina said she hopes publicizing her mother's plight will inspire the public to elect Texas lawmakers willing to repeal TADA.
"My mom is going to die on Monday because of a law that saves hospitals money," she said.