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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Obamacare. Health Care for a Working Poor Cancer Survivor. Update.

Hansel and Gretel. Melissa West. source
This post reports on my experiences today as a member of the working poor who is seeking health care. Almost two years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I received charity care. With the onset of Obamacare, I lost charity care. At least I think I did. I've received conflicting answers. Ever since I've been struggling to figure out what my new status is, and how I can again access health care.

I've been told that the cancer I had is unlikely to cause me future trouble. But I received a new medical diagnosis for another condition. This new medical diagnosis is vanilla and manageable, as health care troubles go, but only under a doctor's care. Without medical attention, this condition can and does kill.

Before I report on what transpired today, I want to offer a few thoughts.

First: Some Obama supporters have been denying that there is any problem. A left-leaning Facebook friend recently posted a message saying that persons appearing on television to report problems with Obamacare are actors, not real people.

I'm a real, live person and I feel shafted by Obamacare. I had charity care; I was told it's gone; I was offered nothing to tide me over. I lost access to medical care. It could be that I am wrong, or that the hospital employee, who has been very nice to me, is wrong. The bottom line is I stopped accessing needing medical care.

I'm a real person. I'm not a pretend person. I'm troubled at the leftwing attempt to airbrush us out of the picture, especially since their motivation is not humanitarian, but is ideological. Our existence is inconvenient to their ideology. Their ideology says it's about helping people. The doublethink gives me the creeps.

I just googled the claim that we are not real people. Apparently the complaint is that the "Koch Brothers" – the left's latest demons – hired actors to star in a Louisiana TV ad about Obamacare.

So? Political ads use actors all the time. Do you really think Pajama Boy or Obamacare Girl are anything but paid performers? I've read that Obamacare Girl was not an American citizen and was not paid. I'll bet the Koch brothers, whoever they are, paid their actors. Maybe they even hired American.

More than once I have attempted to unload on Facebook about my struggle only to have someone who has otherwise never communicated with me at all pop up and say that what I've reported about my own life is either not true or not valid.

I recently posted about my loss of health care under Obamacare and how frightened and sad I am. I'm wondering how long I can remain in a holding pattern around my latest diagnosis without doing permanent damage.

A woman who has never communicated with me at all popped up and said, very cheerily, "My sister just got a great plan under Obamacare for fifty dollars a month!"

I was aghast. I said, "Wow, I think you should go to funerals and announce, 'Sucks to be you! MY loved ones are all still very much alive!'"

I can be a sarcastic bitch, sometimes. Especially when my broken heart gets in the way of some "humanitarian"'s ideology.

At other times, when I've tried to unburden myself and hopefully receive some guidance or support, leftists have jumped down my throat and demanded that I be GRATEFUL. You should be grateful to us, I am ordered. We, the heroic left, are the ones who have spent time making sure that po' folk like you have access to health care.

I'm confident that George Orwell penned an eloquent essay addressing the abomination of the left's demands for gratitude from those they screw over and disdain, an essay I could quote with great delectation and – yes – genuine gratitude – but I can't lay hands on it right now.

Another reason I haven't detailed what's been going on in my attempt to get needed health care since Obamacare became the law of the land: I am poor and I am powerless and I need health care. If I were to post on my blog or on Facebook everything I've seen, heard, and experienced, I risk getting myself blacklisted.

I will give one example. I went to a taxpayer-funded institution in Paterson, NJ. I was told, in so many words, "You speak English and you were born in this country. We're here for the people who really need help."

I know that by reporting incidents like this publicly, I risk being blacklisted by the institution in question. I'd certainly be setting myself up for retaliation.

There are things that for reasons of self-protection I choose not to say. Many, many, many things.

I don't know who the Koch Brothers are, and I don't really care. But if they are getting the word out, word that I can't get out because I am too afraid of being retaliated against by some bureaucrat who might be my last chance to get the health care I need, then I am grateful to the Koch Brothers, with a gratitude that I do not feel to my left-leaning Facebook friends who have bequeathed to me the "gift" of Obamacare.

I want to say one more thing. Why am I member of the working poor to begin with?

I started working outside the home for a paycheck when I was 14. I worked through high school, college, and my MA at UC Berkeley. I worked as a nurse's aide, carpenter, cleaning woman, tutor, and teacher.

I have a PhD. I have published in the major scholarly publications in my fields – Polish-Jewish relations, popular culture, and folklore. I have also published literary work. I've been published by Basic Books, Oxford University Press, and high profile websites like Beliefnet. My writing has won competitive awards. I receive excellent reviews from students and supervisors.

I cannot get a fulltime teaching job.

I work as an adjunct professor, a group frequently identified as among the most egregiously exploited in America.

Politics – leftwing politics – play a role in my poverty. I have been told in so many words again and again by potential employers that I am "too right wing," a member of the "wrong minority" and the wrong religion to be a college professor. I write a bit more about that here.

That leftists play such an overt and unashamed role in my poverty is one reason I find it so repellant when they insist that I should be grateful to them for Obamacare.

So. What happened today.

Again, I was told months ago that I lost the health care access that I had through charity care. I floundered. I'm intimidated. I don't know anyone who wouldn't be. I tried the Obamacare website and was told that I didn't qualify for anything. I phoned and emailed people who had been helpful to me in the past, and they seemed as utterly clueless as I. In one case it took an otherwise dedicated, intelligent, competent professional two weeks to get back to me with an answer to one simple yes/no question. In another case a very dear person who has been very nice to me kept responding to my inquiries in a Spanglish I could not decipher.

I've learned not to be assertive. People can and do cut you off. They stop taking your calls. I tried to be patient. I tried to beg and whimper as is my duty as the helpless po' folk they see me as being. Yes, handouts do train recipients to be supplicants. They do teach you to shuck and jive and say "Yes suh, thank ye ma'am, yes ma'am I sho is grateful."

How much more dignified it is to be a consumer. To be able to select a product and purchase a product and be able to reject the product if it does not meet your needs. I learned this when I lived under the Soviet system, in Poland.

So. It's been weeks that turned into months of phoning, emailing, and begging. And nagging emails from the doctor saying, "We have to take care of this. When are you coming in?" and being afraid to make another appointment.

In my floundering, I chanced across a man who seemed caring and competent. The next words I want to type stop my fingers, because hostile thought police who cultivate and live for lies will jump all over them. Here are these taboo words: I thought this man might help me because he spoke Standard English.

"Aha! So, you are a white supremacist!" Oh, please. My first job after college was in a tiny village in Africa. I'm a child of two immigrants. A family member, almost a hundred years ago, was lynched. I'm not a white supremacist, but I am white, and I've learned, in Paterson, that there are many people who have a problem with my being a cracker, a gringa, a white bitch, a white ho, a recipient of white privilege, a white oppressor … you get the idea.

I made an appointment with this Standard-English-speaking white man for this morning.

I reported to the institution where he works. I found myself in a crowded room full of Hispanics, Muslims, and a Polish family (identified by language.)

People were packed in as if on a subway car. There was no place to sit. Chaos. No receptionist, no system, no explanatory signs.

I approached an Hispanic man behind a desk. "I'm here to see ___."

The Hispanic man looked up from the Hispanic woman he was processing. "He's busy. He can't see you. You have to sit and wait."

He had to have seen that there was not a single free chair in the room.

"I'll just stand here," I said.

The Hispanic man turned back to the woman he was processing.

Up and down this bank of windows, every client was doing the same thing – trying to prove that they were in the US legally, and that they had no income whatsoever.

Uh huh.

I recognized a woman I know. I know she's not telling the truth. Whatever.

I stood there for a full hour. Finally I pulled out my phone and called the man I'd come to see. "I've been waiting for you for an hour," he said. "Where have you been?"

Okay. Hispanic man had lied. And he made me stand there, in front of him, for an hour. For fun. I hope it was good for him.

The man I'd made the appointment to see came out to get me.

My impression was correct. He was a white male. He did speak Standard English. He was professional and kind.

I need to add – in this journey, I have been helped by Muslims and by Hispanics. Not everyone has been like the man who made me stand in front of him for an hour when he could have just allowed me to go back for my appointment. Not everyone has been like the Muslim MD who said to me, "You speak English and you were born in this country. We're here for the people who really need help." But I've had so many experiences like that that I know I need to be aware of other people's anti-white racism, other people's tribalism, when I am trying to save my own life.

The man I met with today had a look at my paperwork. I have learned, as a po' folk, that I must never leave my house for an appointment like this without my tax forms, bank statements, utility bills, paystubs, lease, and medical bills. I had them all in my backpack.

The man was astounded. "You absolutely should be covered, Obamacare or not," he said.

Then he realized what the problem is. As an adjunct, my salary fluctuates, month by month, year by year. This fluctuation was enough to flummox the machine and spit me out into death.

He tried to fix it. We don't know if the fix will work. I am now, again, waiting. Waiting for health care I should have had months ago.

Since I am seeking full time work, I rush to add – I often walk six miles a day. I don't miss work. I love my work. I'm okay. If you've got a job, hire me! But I need medical attention to stay okay.

Please pray that what the nice white man did today worked.


  1. Prayers for you. May God be with you.

  2. "Please pray that what the nice white man did today worked."


    1. Thank you, Liron. Dealing with all this alone is so very punishing. Coming here and reading that you and Gordon will pray for me is my lifeline. Thank you.

  3. Is you CV available online?

    1. Hi, anonymous. I prefer posts with names. I should post guidelines so people know that.

      If you are a potential employer, I would be more than happy to send you a CV. Please identify yourself if you are.