Category: Archive

Clinton goes to bat for LI widow

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

New York Senator Hilary Clinton has helped save Madeline Polcer, a mother of two originally from Newbridge, Co. Kildare, from crippling hospital debts of almost $1.5 million.
Clinton took action when she heard how Polcer was left widowed, with a newborn baby and hopelessly in debt after her husband’s untimely death from cancer.
The Polcer family’s nightmare began in February when they discovered that Madeline’s 38-year-old husband Gregory had developed non-small cell lung cancer.
Polcer was pregnant with the couple’s second child. The devastating news came less than a year after she miscarried their second child, whom they had conceived through fertility treatment.
As the bills for her husband’s treatment began to mount, the insurance company became increasingly reluctant to cover them. Following a six-week course of radiation and chemotherapy at North Shore Long Island Jewish hospital, Gregory Polcer was discharged twice as the insurance company began to withhold payments on the basis that his some of his treatments were not “medically necessary.” Both times, he had to be rushed back in for emergency treatment. On the second occasion, the doctors told the couple there was nothing more they could do.
Polcer died on May 7, just 10 weeks after his initial diagnosis and seven weeks before his wife was due to give birth. Unfortunately, it was only the beginning of her nightmare.
Following his death, the insurance company “accidentally,” cut off Polcer’s cover. By the time they moved to reinstate the cover it had expired, leaving his wife financially accountable for his hospital care and with no insurance to cover the costs of her child’s impending birth.
Polcer was refused permanent public medical insurance for either herself, her three-year-old daughter Sarah or her unborn child.
Faced with the prospect losing her home, Polcer gave birth to baby Emma on July 1.
In the meantime, her sister Linda Genzel worked around the clock, appealing to the public, media and “every senator and public representative we could think of,” to highlight Polcer’s case.
Clinton approached Polcer after reading a fax Genzel sent to her office. In recent weeks, she has negotiated with North Shore LIJ hospital to eliminate debts arising from Polcer’s husband’s death and baby Emma’s birth.
“If it wasn’t for her we’d be really in a bind. I also want to acknowledge North Shore for what they’ve done,” said Genzel, who lives in Glen Cove, L.I.
“I got a lot of press statements and letters from politicians and I have to tell you, there was only three or four politicians who actually gave a hoot. The other ones were too busy to get involved, which is pretty sad because they’re supposed to be there to help.”
In a statement sent to the Echo, Clinton said: “I am delighted to have worked with North Shore/LIJ to successfully resolve the billing issues with the insurance company during this very difficult time in Madeline’s life.”
She added: “This is a tragic situation and our hearts go out to Madeline. It is wonderful that North Shore LIJ – along with so many others in the community – was willing to support her and I am pleased that I was able to help her in this way.”
In addition, Genzel has raised almost $60,000 dollars on her sister’s behalf, but fears Polcer may still lose her house without continued fundraising.
“She has a new baby and no way of working and making money so she can keep her house,” Genzel said.
“The baby had severe breathing problems when she was born and is going to need constant care for around the first year. Madeline has no insurance. Even if she was to go out to work, how is she going to pay for childcare? They don’t give you a chance to get back on your feet. She’s in a jam right now. Only for what we’ve raised, the house would be gone.”
There is also the unresolved issue of Polcer’s medical cover. Genzel is horrified at how the insurance companies have treated her sister.
“Once Greg died, they cancelled his medical insurance. They didn’t give her legally the 30 days she’s entitled to they just cancelled it, it was disgraceful,” she said.
Polcer applied for public insurance at the end of June, however, it was almost a month before her application was processed.
“We tried to go for public cover, but Medicaid are telling her that the debt benefit, which doesn’t even cover her mortgage is too much, that she and her three year-old daughter are not entitled to medical coverage. She doesn’t have the money to pay for medical coverage. The baby has coverage for a few months and she has public coverage for 12 weeks. After that, none of them have coverage.”
Medicaid spokesperson Karen Garber said they could not comment on individual cases. When asked what may have been the reason for the delay in processing Polcer’s application, she said: “That I can’t explain. Generally speaking there is a period of time between when an application is received to when it is reviewed.”

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