No Health Insurance, But At Least I Still Have My Dignity

I am not a happy Foster this morning.  I am, however, apparently still a Foster with his dignity.

According to the Altoona Mirror, Gov. Tom Corbett (R- Pennsyltucky) has decided that Pennsylvania will not be taking part in the upcoming expansion of Medicaid.

…Gov. Tom Corbett has misgivings about the Medicaid program. In his budget address Tuesday, he said he wouldn’t expand it here, as the federal government has invited states to do, until there are program reforms and clarifications.

Am I shocked?  Of course not.  As a single male member of the working poor, I’ve been following this issue pretty closely, since it directly affects me.  My income puts me over the medicaid limit currently, yet under the expanded medicaid program I would be eligible.  While I was hopeful that Gov. Corbett would approve the expansion, since he has been pretty indecisive about it up until now, he is a member of the GOP and is as conservative as he can get away with in PA.  (For example, Voter ID.)

So Corbett’s decision did not come as a great surprise.  In fact, it actually left me kind of hopeful, since he didn’t come right out and say that PA would not be taking part in the expansion, period.  He left the door open at least.  As little as I can stand Corbett, he is not actually the cause of Foster’s bad morning.

Who is, you may ask?  Let’s take a closer look at the above linked article (Bolding is mine as always):

To illustrate his opposition to an expansion of Medicaid in Pennsylvania, Dr. Zane Gates – founder of two free clinics in the region that help the working poor – told a story from his childhood.

He was shopping at the A&P in Eldorado, near Evergreen Manors housing project where he grew up, when he saw a classmate.

Instead of checking out, Gates walked around the store until the classmate left, before handing over his food stamps for groceries.

Modern Medicaid is like food stamps because it generates embarrassment – “it takes a lot of people’s dignity away” – largely because the program’s low reimbursements cause providers to refuse service to cardholders, Gates said this week.

Thank you, Dr. Gates.  Thank you for caring so much about my dignity.

And fuck off.

Yes, Dr. Gates.  Some places do not accept medicaid because of the low reimbursements.  But some places do.

Do you know what hurts my dignity, Dr. Gates?  Having 8 teeth, and not being able to get them out so I can get dentures because I don’t have 2000$.  If I had medicaid, perhaps I couldn’t go to my preferred provider.  But I could go somewhere, and I wouldn’t have had to learn to hold my jaw just right so no one can tell how bad my teeth are.  Hell, perhaps I could even smile.  Now that I think of it, smiling is a bit undignified.  Looking out for me again, Dr. Gates.

What else hurts my dignity?  How about not having an annual check-up for the last 15 years?  Or are physicals undignified?

Not going to the doctor when I am sick.  Sure helps my dignity.  Or spending a large fraction of my paycheck, which I don’t have to spare, on the doctor when I have no choice.

Of course, maybe I am lucky enough to have access to a free clinic, like the ones you operate.  Lucky me!  Free clinics are oh so dignified.  Of course, I still have to pay for my prescription.   Almost forgot about that!  If covered by medicaid, my script would cost a 1 to 3 dollar co-pay.  Much more dignified for me to stand at the pharmacy counter asking what each prescription costs, counting my money, trying to figure out which ones I can do without.

Some people live in the real world:

Program advocates said it’s crazy to refuse the invitation, which includes a federal promise to pay – temporarily – almost all the costs of expanding enrollment from 100 percent of federal poverty to 133 percent.

“It’s a tragedy if the state doesn’t,” said Dr. Deborah Baceski, who runs a free medical clinic in Somerset.

“It would truly be an act of fiscal malpractice for the governor to reject Medicaid expansion,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.


“It’s a no-brainer,” he said.


Medicaid is imperfect, but it isn’t the dignity-robbing program Gates imagines, according to Pollack.

Surveys of Medicaid recipients in recent years – including a Harvard researcher’s study of Oregon residents – show the program “makes a huge difference in giving people true access to care,” Pollack said.

It also has a high satisfaction rating, he said.

“Things have changed,” Pollack said, referring to Gates’ experience with the food stamp program decades ago.


Gates believes that a reasonable alternative to Medicaid expansion is expansion of the free clinic model he pioneered with Buffalo insurance broker Patrick Reilly.

Corbett’s budget includes $5 million for clinics – including some for hospitals to reproduce the Gates-Reilly model.


Pollack thinks that’s wishful thinking.

Clinics do good work, but they can only be “a drop in the bucket” compared to the comprehensive reach of Medicaid, said.

Free clinics like the ones Dr. Gates has opened are great.  They do good things.  But they are not medicaid.  They are not health insurance.

So fuck Dr. Gates.  And fuck my dignity while we’re at it.

I rather have Medicaid.



One thought on “No Health Insurance, But At Least I Still Have My Dignity

  1. Well, ’tis no matter; honour pricks me on.
    Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I
    come on? how then? Can honour set to a leg? no: or
    an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? no.
    Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is
    honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what
    is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? – Falstaff, Henry IV, Part 1

    Goading you to keep your dignity is Part and Parcel of the Republican Plan to keep people from getting their just benefits so those monies can be funneled to the Rich.

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