The Voice of the Poor on Proposed "Health Care" Plans
Unfortunately, none of the leadership of either party seems to have any regular contact with dirty, smelly poor people. There are times when it really frustrates me, to listen to what candidates or pundits say about health care and the reality of it for most people. It's as if they are speaking another language, they often feel so distanced from where I am and millions like me are. This post isn't about HRC or BHO per se, so much as it's meant to contrast with some much wonkery I read both in the blogosphere and the SCLM on the topic of health care. This feels so much more in touch with reality to me. The comments are good too:
Now, I didn’t hear the whole debate, and I’ve been trying to find the plans laid out point by point so that I can examine them more closely–but from what I can find, apparently the plan to make sure everybody is covered is basically the following for both candidates:
1. offer cheap health insurance.
2. give tax breaks so “families” can afford it.
The tricky part comes when it comes to how to actually get people on the programs–and this is the part where my head is exploding because I can’t find any definite information about each candidate. Apparently both candidates would impose some type of ‘fine’ or ‘penalty’ on people who do not buy health insurance once the option is made available–thus universal coverage. At the debate, I couldn’t figure out what Hillary was saying at all, and all I took from Obama is that he will be all about fining parents/penalizing parents if they don’t cover their children.
I found this article, which is from early Feb. and only says what I am saying here–how confusing it all is.
Thus, I will give you my reaction to these proposed ‘fines’ and penalties of parents for not covering their children from a purely uneducated point of view: YOU GOT TO BE OUT YOUR DAMN MIND.
Apparently in Massachusetts, where there is mandated health insurance, less than half of the uninsured have enrolled–in spite of the heavy fines imposed on those who don’t.
I can tell you why–even if health care is only 40 or 50 dollars for the entire family to be enrolled–you know what? I can buy groceries for a week and a half with 40-50$’s. I can pay for about two weeks worth of gas for my car, or stop a shut off for my water/gas, or god forbid, get a few clothes that actually fit for the kids.
Any poor person that is facing the emergency of eating or having electricity or water NOW versus the possibility of maybe an injury occurring at a later point (but maybe not if we’re all careful), is going to pick the week of groceries any day of the week. It’s not even a choice, really.
The thing is, people who are not struggling week to week literally are unable to fathom that 40$’s is NOT “just” 40$’s to a poor person. 40$’s is a lot of fucking money to a poor person–some times as much as a third or half of a weekly pay check.
To a poor person, 40$’s is the mark of what emergency can be staved off for another few days–hunger? Cold? 40$’s is survival.
And guess what? From our end of the spectrum, the parent that deserves to be penalized is the one who would spend 40$’s on something other than food or heating. The one that would let their kid go hungry so that s/he could pay for service that may or may not be used some time eventually up the road.
And meanwhile, the people who could afford to pay for health insurance to begin with have chosen some other health insurance (rather than state provide health insurance), and are living just fine just like they always have done.
If this is universal health care–just another way to criminalize and burden the poor–please take it back, with my blessings. I don’t want it.
Too many discussions "we" progressives have fail to include voices like these. There is no doubt in my mind that the majority of the national leadership would be utterly befuddled by this. Which is why they fail to perceive what a time bomb this issue really is for them and all like them, trapped in the idea that insurance companies have a right to be at the table. Politically, failing to deal with health care is the lion that is going to come back and bite some on the ass, hard. Sooner than they think, too.