Unclear on the concept

I like people in general, but sometimes they’re a little dumb. For example, the other day I was at the gym, being decidedly not-buff, and of course Ms. Pup was with me. I sat down at the shoulder-stretcher (or whatever it’s called), all ready to dislocate my upper torso in the name of better health, and she plopped down next to me, as she is wont to do. Immediately, this guy wanders up and starts petting her. I clearly need a better opening salvo, because, “She’s working,” only works about half the time at getting people to leave the dog alone. This occasion fell into the other half.

“She’s working.”
“Oh, are you training her?”
“No, she’s trained.”
“And she’s yours?”
“Yes, she’s mine.”
“So she’s working right now?”
“Yes, she is.”
“So what’s her job, what does she do?”
“She’s a guide dog.”
“For you?”
“Yes. So please stop petting her.”
“…..oh.”

But the petty little examples of, “Huh?” in my life don’t hold a candle to the gem that found its way into my inbox this week. In the famous words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

A gun manufacturer is trying to get a gun approved by the FDA as a medical device – and covered by Medicare.

Seriously. Note that this gun is not yet in production. It is a theoretical gun. (I guess that’s the safest kind). And it is theoretically designed for easy use by elderly folks and people with disabilities. And because it is specifically for elderly folks and people with disabilities, it must be a medical device! Of course! So let’s get it approved by the FDA! Even though it’s, y’know, a GUN. Or rather it would be, if it existed yet.

In order to get it to exist, the manufacturer needs money. So this theoretical gun is being sold for real money, on the premise that it’s been approved by the FDA as a medical device, and that for its next trick, it will become reimbursable by Medicare.

The FDA itself is skeptical, at best. They say that what they sent the manufacturer was no approval notice; it was simply a confirmation that they’d received a registration. And Medicare reimbursement? For a gun? People have enough trouble getting new wheelchairs! And you’ll notice that the wheelchair hasn’t exactly needed a campaign to convince folks that they don’t kill people, lately?

I have no problem with the existence of adapted guns, at least no more than I do with the existence of any other kind of gun. If people without disabilities get to run around with deadly weapons, then hey, people with disabilities should be able to run around with deadly weapons too. (And in fact we do particpate in sport shooting; paralyzed riflemen and women use sip-and-puff mechanisms, among other things, to shoot rifles competitively in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games). I have a huge problem with the concept of a gun as a medical device, much less one approved and reimbursed by the government. I’m also not thrilled that anything used by people with disabilities is automatically viewed as a medical device. By that logic, my computer, my TV, and my sofa are also medical devices. Except less dangerous.

Although Ms. Pup is a designated medical device according to the folks who administer my flexible healthcare spending account. I’ll admit that I don’t complain much about that. But guide dog versus gun – sorry, no contest there. Also, my dog actually exists. I know, because she ate the middle finger out of my glove this evening while I was having dinner.

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4 Responses to “Unclear on the concept”

  1. Sarah Says:

    She ate the middle finger out of your glove? Well, that is certainly a message in and of itself!

    Good information on the medicaid/gun issue.

    ~Sarah

  2. Conni Says:

    I saw this article linked in a blog, and I thought it might interest you. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/magazine/04Creatures-t.html?_r=5&sq=panda%2520horse&st=cse&scp=1&pagewanted=all It’s about service animals.

  3. Sam Says:

    Certain devices that can be bought from Toys in Babeland make me a lot less anxious and even relieve some of my ticcy symptoms. Some are even adapted to accommodate other disabilities of mine (like latex allergies and carpal tunnel). When do I get MY Medicare reimbursement?

  4. Jess Says:

    hey, you write really well! I hope you keep posting đŸ™‚

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