The lawyer with TB is whining and spinning to the press again, this time to the NYTimes. Nope, no admitting of responsibility here, folks, just move along.

But one part of his whine is that Big Brother USA didn’t immediately get a jet and air evac him home for free.Well, arranging an air evacuation takes time. In emergencies, you figure you will get the money and sign away your house and your oldest son to pay, but for a routine trip requiring air flow isolation, lots of paperwork would need to be done: Who would pay, what kind of jet would be needed, what airports could be used, etc.
And it is unclear if it was the responsibility of the United States government to transport someone home just because he is infectious to others: especially since he had been advised not to travel.

(If you are stranded and pennyless in a war zone, usually the government will help you but often you will be billed for the evacuation…and if you are sick they will assist your traveling home, but you will have to pay the bill later…LINK).

If Lawyer Speaker waited a few days, things would have been ironed out. but no. When the government didn’t jump, he took things into his own hands, and even booked via Canada so his name wouldn’t come up on the “no fly list”.

he was told that he would have to pay for a special medical evacuation that would probably cost $140,000…Mr. Speaker said he wanted to dispel the news media portrayal of him and his wife as “the super-rich, globe-trotting couple” who could easily have afforded to pay $140,000 to fly home in a private plane. 

Well, duh.
Wonder if he ever heard of Travel insurance? The kind that pays your medical bills if you are sick overseas, and will even air evac you home if you need it? LINK2

Actually, it might not have paid for Mr. Hoitytoity lawyer’s air evac, since it was a “pre existing condition”. But one would think a lawyer would think about such things.
When I was younger and traveled a lot, I paid a set fee every year to cover medical emergencies, and if it was a major trip, I would also buy trip insurance, so that if I had to cancel the trip. ( I only used it once: when I had scheduled a trip to an Adriatic resort, and civil war broke out in Yugoslavia). 

Emergencies during travel are not unusual. Car accidents. (been there, done that) Heart attacks. Pulmonary embolism (blood clots). Strokes.

Not to mention exotic diseases. (Malaria, typhoid, dengue fever), and wars (been there, done that also).
Usually local doctors can take care of local disease. Both the local embassy and there are websites to let you know where well trained doctors can be found. But accidents are a problem, since neurosurgeons are not located in many exotic areas.

So you might end up air evacuated back to a US hospital, either because you can’t get treatment locally, or you will be hospitalized for awhile, and prefer to be sick in the USA.

So, folks, remember: spend a couple of bucks, and insure your trip. Insure your health. And insure your rental car.
Finally, has an article about the law in such cases. Ironically, Mr. Speaker’s immature behavior may end up in changing the law: to restrict civil rights.

In Georgia, Gerberding told lawmakers Wednesday, it takes a court order to isolate a patient under public health laws, but only after the patient ignores medical advice. She suggested that one issue the Speaker incident raised is whether states should have the ability to restrict patients’ movement sooner in the process.

And if you think holding someone in Gitmo just because they trained a couple months in an Alqaeda training camp in Afghanistan is bad, imagine legally holding someone in a hospital ward until their sputum clears of TB germs.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she has posted a longer version of this on HeyDoc Xanga Blog


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