“Lack of coverage has forced Marrs to forgo asthma inhalers and dental work on a molar she said was broken in a domestic dispute.
‘I’ve been living on Orajel,’ she said.”
It’s bad enough that last week was, seriously, one of the last weeks in this nation’s history. On Wednesday, America reached a tragic milestone with 100, 000 COVID-19 deaths. In addition, earlier in the week, George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis was killed, murdered, when a white police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes as 3 of his fellow officers watched. This lead to protests and then, tragically, sickeningly, destructive violence, still going on, all across the county, which with surely lead to another wave of coronavirus infections and more stay-at-home orders and economic hardships. Also on Wednesday, Larry Kramer, the fiery AIDS activist who wrote the heart-wrenching, blistering The Normal Heart, died. (It is poetically, sadly ironic that Kramer, whose ranting and railing helped get treatment for AIDS patients, died, although of different causes, during a pandemic and days of rioting.) There was also, as always, Trump and his way of not helping or making things worse, when he should be doing and we desperately need the opposite – but that goes without saying.
As if all this wasn’t enough, a knee to all our necks, the above quote from an article appearing in the Los Angeles Times a week ago makes clear that some states – red states - have made life even harder for some folks. The article compares Texas, which chose not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare and which is where the unfortunate Ms. Marrs lives, with California, known for generously expanding healthcare coverage. This difference has become all the more stark during the pandemic, when having no medical insurance is even more dangerous.
From the Los Angeles Times article:
“Texas became the epicenter of Republican resistance to the Affordable Care Act. State leaders blocked Medicaid expansion, leaving more than 750,000 low-income Texans without access to coverage. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, a quarter of working-age Texans lacked health insurance.
“The state also refused to establish its own insurance marketplace and dropped quality-improvement initiatives funded by the healthcare law.
“Today, Texas heads an effort by 19 GOP-led states and the Trump administration to get the Supreme Court to invalidate the whole law. That case has continued despite the mounting toll from the pandemic; the justices will consider it in the fall.”
It’s hard not to feel like this is some sort of punishment for being poor, if not black or brown. It’s hard not to feel this isn’t a punishment for not pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps, for not having bootstraps to pull oneself up with. That’s what it sounds and feels like.
Here’s more from the article, quoting Ms. Marrs about her life in Texas now that she is on her own after leaving her abusive husband:
“’I had to decide if I was going to stay in a really bad situation to keep my insurance or leave for the sake of my safety and the safety of my kids, knowing I’d lose my insurance,’ she said.
There was also the sheriff of San Bernardino County, literally down the street less than a block away from my house, that I read about in the Los Angeles Times a month or two ago (I’m very sorry I couldn’t find the story in the useless search engine on the Times’ not-impressive website.) He had no sympathy for prisoners, for whom being in jail puts them in great danger of getting sick with the coronavirus. When asked if non-violent prisoners should be released, as is happening in most counties at least here in California, the sheriff said “nope” and essentially said they should have thought about that when committing their crimes (never mind that there was no pandemic several months ago when most of the crimes were committed).
“I don’t deserve to die,” said a prisoner in a unrelated story regarding being locked up in unhygienic, close quarters during this time of coronavirus. Too bad. Especially when the president labels the protesters “THUGS” and says, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”