Matthew Holt

Voices from the deserving mob

From the (UK) Independent. Real quotes from real people attending the free care in LA this week:

“I had a gastric bypass in 2002, but it went wrong, and stomach acid began rotting my teeth. I’ve had several jobs since, but none with medical insurance, so I’ve not been able to see a dentist to get it fixed,” she told The Independent. “I’ve not been able to chew food for as long as I can remember. I’ve been living on soup, and noodles, and blending meals in a food mixer. I’m in constant pain. Normally, it would cost $5,000 to fix it. So if I have to wait a week to get treated for free, I’ll do it. This will change my life.”


She works for a major supermarket chain but can’t afford the $200 a month that would be deducted from her salary for insurance. “It’s a simple choice: pay my rent, or pay my healthcare. What am I supposed to do?” she asked. “I’m one of the working poor: people who do work but can’t afford healthcare and are ineligible for any free healthcare or assistance. I can’t remember the last time I saw a doctor.”


“You’d think, with the money in this country, that we’d be able to look after people’s health properly,” she said. “But the truth is that the rich, and the insurance firms, just don’t realise what we are going through, or simply don’t care. Look around this room and tell me that America’s healthcare don’t need fixing.”

And that last one is the money quote.

And despite all the good people in Community Health Centers do, I’m really worried that a good liberal Bob Herbert is so impressed that he thinks that they’re almost a good enough solution. After all there are plenty of FQHCs in Los Angeles—but somehow they’re not meeting the needs of these legions of anonymous poor people. And even if they were, I can’t believe Bob would be in favor of separate but equal.

And it’s clearly true that the rich (or at least some of those not so badly off) simply don’t care—or at least aren’t thinking about these people when they spread their idiotic propaganda, or show up to shout down Democratic Congress people.

And that’s why, despite all the problems, I am in favor of health reform even in its current limited state passing. Because somehow we have to get help to these people—which means getting them into the system not hoping that charity care will get them by.