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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

WareCare

He suffered a gruesome on-the-job injury in front of a national audience. And he may be forced to pay the full cost of his care and recovery.

Louisville's Kevin Ware suffered a compound fracture of his leg in the Cardinals win over Duke. While the team advances to the Final Four, Ware turns his attention to recovery. And his parents may be facing massive medical bills -- without any help from the university or the NCAA.

Despite the billions passing from CBS (and cable television viewers) to the NCAA, Ware is dependent on the kindness of Louisville not to yank his scholarship. Because he is a "student-athlete" he is not eligible for worker's compensation that would help cover the costs of a professional athlete's on-the-job injury.

Even health insurance is no slam dunk because the NCAA's catastrophic injury insurance coverage comes with a $90,000 deductible.

The university is saying all the right things, for now, but others are skeptical:
"Going forward, we don't know what's going to happen in terms of medical expenses," said Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, which is seeking reform. "If Kevin has lifelong medical bills associated with his injury, he could be squarely responsible for this."
Ware hails from The Bronx, so if his parents have health insurance, there is some hope under ObamaCare, which guarantees them the right to carry him on their policy until he turns 26. But even then, depending on the nature of his recovery, they could come up against lifetime coverage limits.

The proclaimed difference between professional and college sports is the latter's alleged "amateur" nature. And while it is true the athletes perform for the "love of the game" and a scholarship that pays for living expenses (and classes should they attend), the system is lopsided in favor of the university/employer.

The prognosis on Ware recovering and perhaps even resuming his collegiate career seem good. But reality suggests he will be viewed as "damaged goods" by Louisville and the NBA unless and until given a chance to prove otherwise.

Ware deserves our best wishes -- not just now but when the spotlight fades and his employer decides whether or not to drop him because of his on-the-job accident.

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