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The Maryville church killing suspect was denied insurance for mental health treatments

There’s no explanation for why some crimes happen, but in the case of the murder of Pastor Fred Winters last week during his Sunday sermon at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., there is an explanation. And it’s troubling.

The suspect was receiving treatment for mental illness. It seemed to be working. But the insurance company didn’t want to pay for it.

Thanks to this decision, a wife is without a husband, two teenage daughters are without a father, and a church is without a pastor.This part of the story is buried in paragraph 6 of a story that ran in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on March 10. The money quote:

Drug treatments that seemed to help weren’t covered by insurance. A doctor recommended treatments in a hyperbaric chamber, but they also weren’t covered by insurance. And the chamber Abernathy wanted to use was in Florida.

Where’s the outrage?

Most likely, Terry Sedlacek is going to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Already, early reports say his family claims he’s insane due to lyme disease. By other accounts, there’s only ever been one case study demonstrating that lyme disease causes insanity, and it’s never been duplicated.

But the cause of his insanity doesn’t matter. By all accounts, something was certainly wrong with Terry Sedlacek. His neighbors were afraid of him. So were his coworkers. He was getting treatment, and the treatment seemed to be working before the insurance company cut it off. The treatments they were willing to pay for didn’t work all that well. And the evidence available today suggests Sedlacek marked last Sunday as “death day” in his planner, loaded up enough ammunition to kill 30 people, and drove to church.

To many people, this story is all about gun control. Left-wingers say if Sedlacek couldn’t have gotten guns, this wouldn’t have happened. Right-wingers say if there’d been a few people with guns at church that morning, someone would have gunned down Sedlacek before he killed Pastor Winters.

Well, mass shootings happen in countries with strict gun control also, and it would have taken a really good, really quick shot to save Pastor Winters’ life since four shots went off in those few seconds before he died.

I don’t see this as a gun control case. Had Terry Sedlacek’s doctor been permitted to practice medicine without interference from insurance company employees–who by all rights would be practicing medicine themselves if they actually knew anything about medicine–then he would have either been in a better mental state on March 10, or he might have been in an institution. In either case, nobody dies.

It’s time for the Winters family, First Baptist Church, or someone–anyone–to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Sedlacek’s insurer. This isn’t just about money. This is about calling attention to a broken system that should have been abolished years ago.

How many more people have to die before we fix this?

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