I'm Sorry You Can't Afford To Be Alive
(and other stories of the USA)
by C. A. Matthews
"There, there, Betty Lou," Grover the doctor said, patting her gently on the hand. "There are worst things in life than having to pull your father off a ventilator because your insurance won't cover it."
Betty Lou gave a long, loud sniff and nodded. "Yeah, he could have terminal cancer like my auntie. She doesn't even have any health coverage because her state wouldn't accept the Medicaid expansion."
Grover rolled his googly eyes and gave a harrumph."Well, at least your dad won't suffer any since he's in a coma, unlike your poor aunt… Didn't you tell me they arrested and jailed her for possession of street opioids?"
Betty Lou bit her lip and tossed her yarn braids over her tiny shoulders. "Uh-huh. But she needs them for the pain. I hope they're giving her something for the pain in prison."
"No worries. They'll keep your aunt occupied there," Grover reassured her. "She'll be kept busy sewing lingerie for Victoria's Secret twelve to fifteen hours a day. She won't have time to worry about her cancer."
"That's a blessing, I guess." Betty Lou turned to go but was halted at the door by a seven-foot-tall, feathery hospital office worker named Big Bird.
"Not so fast," Big Bird boomed in a loud and cheery voice. "You've got a bill to pay--and I'm not talking about my big yellow beak, either. Your family has a very high deductible."
"But we can't afford to pay my father's hospital bill," Betty Lou explained. "It will bankrupt our family. Dad wasn't able to work this past month due to his illness. The bank has already threatened to come and take our home away if we can't pay the past due amount on the mortgage soon. We'll be thrown out on the street if we try to pay dad's hospital bill."
Big Bird shook his head. "That's not our problem. We're a for-profit hospital corporation, and we have lots of Congress members to bribe. They don't come cheap. But we're not totally unkind. We'll work out an installment plan with you."
"Oh, thanks," Betty Lou mumbled, tears welling in the corner of her Muppet eyes. "How much will we have to pay?"
"Let's see…" Big Bird flipped open a large computer printout that trailed from his hands all the way down to the floor and back again. "Ah, here it is." He came over to Betty Lou and pointed to the total amount. "I think at a pay back of about a thousand a month for the next ten years we'll be able to call us even."
Betty Lou gasped. "We don't have an extra thousand dollars a month lying around just to pay for the twenty-four hours my dad was in intensive care. Are you sure our health insurance didn't cover most if not all of the costs?"
"Pretty sure it didn't," Big Bird replied. "Your policy was with the No-Go-to-the-Doctors insurance company, right?"
"That's right," said Betty Lou.
"Ah, but then you took your dad to the doctors and they sent him here and neither of those visits are covered by your policy." Big Bird lowered his voice and winked. "Trust me. I've argued hours on the phone with No-Go just to get ten bucks out of them. You get what you pay for."
"Their premiums are terribly expensive, too. We would have been better off not having health insurance in the first place." Betty Lou gave a loud sigh. "I don't think this day could get any worse."
Just then the lights flashed and then went dark as the building shook violently. A loud warning siren began to wail outside.
"Oh, dear," said Grover. He went over to the window to scan the scene outside. "The earthquake must have caused the nuclear power plant to melt down. It's hard to see it well through all the smoke particulates and thick greenhouse gases, but that glow on the horizon is unmistakable."
He scratched his chin thoughtfully. "They tell us that nuclear power is 'safe clean energy' all the time, so I wonder how that could have happened."
"My dad, Homer, didn't report into work today as the shift technician, that's what happened," said Betty Lou, shaking her head in disgust. "The plant's owners are too cheap to hire more workers or pay a decent wage to retain skilled people to fix things properly."
Betty Lou pushed past Big Bird and quickly exited the room. From the hallway she cried out, "Good luck all!"
"Too bad they didn't take the climate crisis seriously a few years ago," Betty Lou muttered to herself as she got into her car and headed toward what was left of her family's home. "But then again, nobody really wanted to build wind turbines or solar panels and shut down the coal-fired power plant in town and put all their employees out of a job. We got what we paid for."
“We have never seen health as a right. It has been conceived as a privilege, available only to those who can afford it. This is the real reason the American health care system is in such a scandalous state.”
— Papa J (@72MichiganPapa) August 12, 2021
From Public Citizen:
Prescription drugs are “outrageously expensive in America.”
That’s what President Biden said last week in a speech imploring Congress to do something about Big Pharma’s price gouging.
And, thanks to our work over many years, Congress is poised to take meaningful action in the upcoming budget legislation.
But the pharmaceutical giants are fighting meaningful action — or any action at all.
At a minimum, Congress must give Medicare the ability to negotiate fairer prices for all medicines and for all payers.
Big Pharma has held the American people hostage for too long.
Give Medicare the power to negotiate lower costs for all medicines and for all payers.
Add your name.
Thanks for taking action.
- Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen
From Faithful America:
Greg Locke calls himself a pastor -- but instead of preaching Christ's love, he preaches COVID denial, partisanship, and QAnon conspiracy theories at his evangelical church outside Nashville, TN.
Locke dismisses science by wrongly calling the Delta variant "nonsense," politicizing masks as "Democrat games," and preaching this deadly message: "You will not wear masks in this church. I'm telling you right now: Do not get vaccinated."
He's been at it the entire pandemic, repeatedly promising to kick mask-wearing worshippers out of church.
Locke is making headlines across the country, spreading his deadly lies in Jesus's name and threatening unvaccinated children everywhere. Christians need to stop sources of COVID-19 misinformation within the church -- which is why Faithful America is teaming up with local faith leaders to cancel the upcoming events on Locke's current speaking tour.
Tell event venues: Shut down pastor's deadly anti-mask, anti-vaccine speaking tour >>
Locke has also called Joe Biden a "a sex trafficking, demon-possessed mongrel" and preached that only "crack-smoking, demon-possessed leftists" believe Biden won in 2020. Now he's part of the ongoing "Freedom Matters Tour," speaking alongside other right-wing activists and politicians from the anti-science group Tennessee Stands, whose founder is also a former pastor.
This tour threatens to spread misinformation and potentially even COVID-19 itself across the South. Fortunately, news broke Friday night that one prominent venue, Christian school Union University in Jackson, TN, has already cancelled its tour event. The move came after one student launched a petition and gathered just 500 signatures.
Faithful America is partnering with local non-profits and clergy to capitalize on this momentum and shut down the rest of this pastor's deadly, anti-health tour. These Tennessee leaders have asked for our help because they know that Faithful America members like you can show venue owners and reporters that an entire grassroots movement of Christians want the freedom to live in a COVID-free environment.
Together, we can speak out, gather 10,000 signatures, and let the tour venues know that Christians across the state and the country demand they follow Union's example and cancel these so-called "Freedom Matters" events.
Tell event venues: Shut down pastor's deadly, anti-mask, anti-vaccine speaking tour >>
Thank you for everything you do to love your neighbor and follow a healing savior by protecting one another from COVID-19.
Rev. Nathan, Karli, and the Faithful America team
Congratulations to the winners of the war in Afghanistan: Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Boeing.— Stephen J. Lyons (@lyonssj55) August 16, 2021
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