Letters: Medicare Madeleine Brand and Robert Siegel read from listeners' letters, including a follow up to what Medicare covers and a quote of St. Bonaventure.
NPR logo

Letters: Medicare

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/113135796/113135767" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Letters: Medicare

Letters: Medicare

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/113135796/113135767" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And I'm Madeleine Brand, and it's time for your mail.

SIEGEL: Yesterday, in our series Are You Covered? we brought you a profile of 71-year-old Audrey Bernfield. Bernfield is a big fan of her Medicare, and it paid for her cancer treatment. This comment from her got some of you writing.

Ms. AUDREY BERNFIELD (Former Director of Undergraduate Advising, Stanford University): I had a prescription to get a new prosthesis because I had a mastectomy, and the woman said, but you're also entitled to six bras. I said, excuse me? She said, you're entitled to six bras with this. But I said, who needs six bras? So now, I have a brown one and a red one and white one.

BRAND: Who needs six bras? Susanna Dickey(ph) of Highpoint, North Carolina, writes: I, too, am a two-time breast cancer survivor, but I was much younger when I was first diagnosed, so I am not yet old enough for Medicare. I bristled at the offhand comments that perhaps covering six bras in a year for those who have had a mastectomy is a luxury that doesn't need to be covered. Unfortunately, my insurance company agrees with them. And she continues: Mastectomy bras are very expensive, usually around $60 and up. Should they be that expensive? Probably not, but they are specially made; and without them, someone who has had a mastectomy could not wear a prosthesis and feel normal. Finally, no, six bras for a year is not an extravagance. These bras get a lot of wear and tear. Do you consider six pairs of underpants an extravagance? I hope not.

SIEGEL: Well, also yesterday, one of you caught a mistake by our guest, poet Heather McHugh. She was just awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation grant; these are the so-called genius grants. McHugh described how she felt when she heard that she'd won.

Ms. HEATHER McHUGH (Poet): I was worried instantly because that's partly my way of taking care of things and partly because, as General Stilwell said, the higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: One listener with some very specialized knowledge didn't think that sounded right. William Burton(ph) tells us he is a Franciscan friar in Chicago, and he writes: General Stilwell may have said that, but if he did, he was quoting Saint Bonaventure. It was this great, medieval, theologian philosopher who first made that statement in his commentary on the Gospel of St. John. Leave it to a Franciscan to make such an earthly observation in the midst of explicating sacred Scripture.

SIEGEL: And "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations" agrees with Father Burton. If you think that we've climbed a bit too high, send us a note.

BRAND: Go to npr.org. Click on Contact Us at the bottom of the page.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.