Let Them See How We Live. Let Them Come.

Behold, health care in the allegedly richest country in the world:

The sick and the disabled pour out of these mountains every summer for their one shot at free health care, but this year was supposed to hold hope for a better solution.

Donald Trump won the White House in part on a promise to fix the nation’s costly and inefficient health-care system. Instead, Republicans in Congress are paralyzed and threatening to dismantle the imperfect framework of Obamacare.

No relief is in sight for someone like Larry McKnight, who sat in a horse stall at the Wise County Fairgrounds having his shoulder examined. He was among more than a thousand people attending the area’s 18th annual Remote Area Medical clinic, where physicians and dentists dispense free care to those who otherwise have none.

A horse stall? Yes, the poor folks come from many miles away for medical treatment in facilities meant to house livestock at the county fair. Chain link fences and barbed wire add to the ambience.

Remote Area Medical, Wise, VA, 2014. Virginia Public Radio WVTF.

This is the sort of thing that’s supposed to only happen in third world countries, not that it should happen anywhere.

A third of the patients who registered Friday were unemployed. [Note: Even my feeble math skills tell me that means two thirds ARE employed.] Those who couldn’t afford a room slept in their cars or camped in the fields around the fairgrounds. They lined up in the dead of night to get a spot inside the event.

It is the place of last resort for people who can’t afford insurance even under Obamacare or who don’t qualify for Medicaid in a state where the legislature has resisted expansion.

Paul Ryan would call this “people exercising choices.” More about Remote Area Medical here.

A lot of people were there for dental and vision services, which usually aren’t covered on Medicaid (although you can get Medicaid with vision and dental in some states). This lady had four rotten teeth pulled:

“My teeth were hurting,” she said. McConnell, 63 and disabled, said she had health insurance through Medicaid but no dental coverage.

So this was her dental plan: She’d save for six months to afford a motel room and gas, then wait in line in the morning heat to see a volunteer dentist.

Virginians are especially screwed because they don’t have Medicaid.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who flew out to the clinic Friday morning, had invited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to join him but said that the Republican leader “politely” declined. McAuliffe, who visits the clinic every year, spent nearly two hours touring it — twice as long as scheduled — and took every opportunity to proclaim that he’s been trying for three years to get the state legislature to agree to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly has resisted, unlike the legislatures in nearby states, which McAuliffe kept reminding the patients and doctors who crowded around him on the hot fairgrounds. …

…“We need it,” called out Tonya Hall, operations director for a hospice-care facility. “Let them come and visit some in southwest Virginia. Let them see the poverty. Let them see how we live. Let them come.”

Let’s go back to our guy in the horse stall.

At 37, with a long graying ponytail, McKnight had never been sick until about eight months ago. So he hadn’t worried too much about not being able to afford insurance on his roughly $18,000 a year in pay as an auto mechanic. But now he was getting a referral to the University of Virginia hospital to check for the source of his pain, which he had vowed to withstand without resorting to opioid medication.

“The normal person doesn’t care about a lot of the things that they care about [in Washington]. Most people want to work, they want insurance and they want to be able to take care of their family without assistance,” he said.

The only way to do that, he said, is to have everybody — the healthy and the sick — paying into a centralized health insurance plan. “I really think the only thing that would truly help this country is if it were single-payer,” McKnight said.

Now, conventional wisdom in our liberal urban enclaves where Democrats talk only to themselves is that these poor rednecks are too stupid to know what’s good for them, so there’s no point going to them with better ideas. But if the wizards in charge of the Democratic Party had even half a clue, they’d be hiring teams of people to spread out through Appalachia and the rural South and Midwest and rust belt and everywhere else there are pockets of people who desperately need the federal government to step in and help them.

And those teams of people would be saying, look, the Republicans have betrayed you. Donald Trump betrayed you. All the plans they’ve been trying to pass in Washington wouldn’t give you anything and would take away what you gained under Obamacare, just so rich people can get more tax cuts.

This argument would have the power of being the plain truth.

The teams could be reinforced with television and radio ads. It should be a major blitz. And they should boldly talk about single payer, or Medicare for All, or whatever they want to call it. They should borrow from Ross Perot’s old playbook and go about with colorful graphs showing how much more the U.S. spends on health care than anybody else, because our system is a profit-taking mess. “See, people, it’s just this simple …” And don’t let Republicans scare anyone with lurid tales of “socialized medicine.”

People are already standing in line to get medical treatment in horse stalls. How much worse could it get?

But Democrats aren’t doing that. Because they’re losers. It’s to his credit that Gov. McAuliffe was there, but he doesn’t seem to want to go beyond preserving Obamacare.

13 thoughts on “Let Them See How We Live. Let Them Come.

  1. Our poor Democrats are scared of criticism from Republicans.
    They’re so afraid of it, that even “Punxsutawney Phil” has more courage:
    At least he’s not afraid of his own shadow!

    Where’s the courage that drove FDR to change the American political and economic landscapes?
    They stood strong against the strong, entrenched economic actors in this country!

    Where’s the courage that drove LBJ and Democratas (along with many Republicans at that time) to finally demand equal justice and treatment for people of all colors?
    They stood uo against strong racist actors and policies in this country. LBJ did this even though he knew he was handing the South to Republicans for at least two generations- it turns out he was off by at least one generation, since we’re on the 3rd+ generation since the Civil and Voting Rights acts were signed into law.

    Hell, where’s the courage that Obama and the Democrats displayed in barely passing PPACA – aka: Obamacare?
    It’s now obvious that they were terrified by a bunch of stupid, ignorant, and unempathitic racist lunatics dressed-up in Revoutionary War garb!

    You gutless wonders to can’t the courage stand up to Republicans trying to replace Obamacare with TrumpDon’tCare?
    Here, in TrumpDon’tCare, you have the “Death Panels” which the tricornered hat wearing rabble was accusing YOU of passing.
    And what do we hear from you?
    Nothing that a single cricket in a large field couldn’t drown out!

    The first Democrat to figure out how to effectively demonize the TrumpDon’tCare “Death Panel” ill-health policies of Republicans, can ride a growing wave which will build to a tsunami, and sweep him/her into the White House!
    I love her, but where’s Gillibrand?
    Where’s Sherrod Brown?
    Where are all of the rest of the Democrats who dream of measuring for curtains in the Oval Ofiice?
    Oh, I know that they’re there.
    I know they’re making some noise. It’s just that no one can hear them!

    One-up the Tea Party idiots, and put on Civil War Union uniforms while painting the Republicans as the treasonous, traitorous, bigoted rebels waving the Stars & Bars.
    It has the benefit of being true!
    Afraid it will piss-off your Wall Street pals?
    Good! IT SHOULD!!!
    The quickest way to the White House is spitting in eye of the people Obama SHOULD have had arrested and tried!
    That’s what the idiotic rabble thought t-RUMPLE-THIN-sKKKin was going to do.
    Instead, he didn’t drain a drop from the DC swamp. He just added more and even wealthier snakes, gators, crocs, and vermin!, into the poisonous waters.

    If you can’t show people that you have bigger cojones than that tiny-handed vulgarian, t-RUMPLE-THIN-sKKKin, than just retire, and enjoy the kind of pensions that almost none of the rest of us will ever come near having.
    Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather you abandon the field of battle, than continue to soil yourselves in fear of Republicans and t-RUMP-a-LOON-pa’s!
    Maybe that soiled ground will serve as fertilizer to a new party which will have some balls, and look out for the people who are basically powerless – and growing more so, as conservatives voter suppression efforts contine to increasingly succeed!
    OR DIE!
    Living on your bent knees isn’t doing you, or us, any good, you chickenshit MFers!!!!!

  2. “This is the sort of thing that’s supposed to only happen in third world countries, not that it should happen anywhere”

    We have had a pretty sizable population existing without healthcare for years. The difference is now the stupid folk eating too much shitty food and doing too many drugs are also mostly white folk. Now it’s a problem, now its an “opioid crisis” now we have a problem affecting the “middle” of America. Where was this sort of nationwide awakening back in the 80’s – 90’s when our inner cities where and still are being ravaged by drugs and guns? Has this country ever been more outwardly racist?

    • “We have had a pretty sizable population existing without healthcare for years.” Indeed, but not just in inner cities. It’s a mistake to conflate “poverty” with “inner city blacks.” Rural white poverty is just as old and just as entrenched, but since it’s rural nobody sees it.

  3. Mike “Maybe instead of spending millions on marginal candidates, Democrats could spend some money on Democratic Party sponsored healthcare fairs? Seems better than buying TV ads.”

    I want my money spent on this.

  4. OT – As I read up on Presidential pardons, there is a problem. The person who gets the pardon can’t plead the 5th. If they (Manifort, Flynn, Kushner, Sessions and Page, but that’s probably not a complete list) are subpoenaed to testify and they will not talk, they can be locked up for contempt (without any conviction) OR if they conceal material facts, they can be charged with obstruction. I understand that Trump can not pardon for FUTURE criminal acts, like obstruction. And Trump can not immunize anyone for violations of state law. SO if real estate deals in NY were a violation of NY state statutes, Trump &/or associates could see the inside of Attica. I see a maze where every escape from one snare is the doorway to a new snare. I think Trump is guilty of many felonies, based on his actions. He’s going to go after the investigation itself, I think, because he can’t immunize himself. if the truth comes out. There’s also a point where Trump’s lawyers will bail – they will put their license to practice law at risk if they assist Trump in violations of the Constitution. (Scooter Libby was & is disbarred.)

  5. True, painfully true, we have a breakdown.  Demand is obvious, and for most areas supply is so abundant they advertise for business.  The drug companies seem to be subsidizing the whole of television almost exclusively at times. With all the demand why the need to advertise?  Yet the political message that you hear most is that government does not work and capitalism solves all problems.  The evidence from the story in this post is that unbridled capitalism does not work in medicine.  That is the message that needs heard.  That this message is muffled and suppressed is shameful.

    The NRA, according to a recent article I read, suppresses the cost of treatment for gunshot wounds. The cost of a non-fatal hospitalization for a gunshot wound was recently reported at $21,000 for the first 35 minutes.   Analysis of payment showed Medicare picking up the vast majority of these types of bill.  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-chicago-gun-violence-medical-costs-met-20170720-story.html  That this sort of message is suppressed and muffled is shameful.  Is not Medicare what the proposed republican plan wants cut?

    Both messages could be sent free of charge to my email box, by democrats,  instead of the incessant requests for money.   This tactic was effectively used by bipartisan moderates using a not for profit organization in my state.  It has the advantage of not subsidizing media who by in large are controlled and owned by mysterious parties of dubious political affiliation.  These same people have effectively hijacked our public airways and operate normally well outside the public interest.  To be fair some exceptions apply, but not typically where a counter message is desperately needed.

    The message that the airwaves belong to all of us is also suppressed.  That our government controls and auctions off right to our airwaves is another message that needs to get out.  The least the renters of our airwaves can do is to care for those they took the airwaves from, but now they want the fees they paid the government back in tax breaks. 

  6. “The message that the airwaves belong to all of us is also suppressed.”

    Its not so much that people don’t realize the airwaves are for us all, regardless if that is the message that is getting out, or not. Social media and the internets works just fine, when used. If the Kardashians have no problem effectively communicating to the world their latest shallow inanities, there’s nothing stopping the democrats/left/progressives from leveraging it to get the word out.

    The real problem, as Maha points out, and is underscored in that linked Guardian article, is that democrats are not only not using the airwaves, they haven’t bothered even at this stage to craft a coherent message. What’s the point of having access if you apparently can’t be bothered to even have anything to say?

    And there is a LOT to be said on healthcare, especially in the wake of the GOP’s latest attempt at “repeal and replace.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, let alone a marketing genius, to realize that Dems should be fixtures at these RAM events. Comments from people standing in line for their only chance to see a doctor, even with the ACA, will provide plenty grist for ads. And its not like this is a subject too foreign or arcane that the average Joe can’t grasp it.

    Whenever the subject of single payer comes up, DEMOCRATS push back using internalized right wing nonsense: the pubic will never support “socialized medicine,” the insurance and pharma industries won’t allow it, the GOP base are worried about “those people” (essentially reprising the 1930s argument for why social security had to be subject to discrimination in order for it to pass). So they don’t even try, even when you have public support for it, evidenced by attendance at these RAM events, among other things.

    I have to ask: do the democrats have any real passion for health care as a right versus a privilege? Or is it just another policy data point that has no more meaning to them than that? Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi — why aren’t they showing up at these events, listening to the people there, and at least trying to understand what’s going on, on the ground instead of getting an understanding of what people need from the denizens of the lofty K Street salons?

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  8. “Now it’s a problem, now its an ‘opioid crisis’ now we have a problem affecting the ‘middle’ of America.”

    Back in the day they were drug addicts and black, and the prescription was a “War on Drugs.”

    Another key difference, other than this is now affecting “the middle” (in the annals of whitewashing terminology, gotta love that one) is that the drugs being abused are “legal” drugs being sold by pharmaceutical companies already enjoying a monopoly that ensures their widespread distribution and availability. At a higher cost, of course, and hence the “illegal” side of the equation.

  9. why aren’t Dems showing up at these events, listening to the people there

    Do these people give big campaign donations?
    There’s the answer.

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