A Medicaid Program to End All Medicaid Programs (Part I)


You want us poor folks dead, so why not be honest and advocate for it?  We know you want us dead.  We read it every day on Syracuse.com and in the Letters to the Editor.  We see it and hear it in every forum where the public speaks.  I, for one, am tired of defending my right to life.  I’m sick of being reasonable and rational, and explaining the process to privileged bigots who don’t want to know reality.

You’re healthy enough to work full-time; we’re not.  Because you work full-time, you are wealthy enough to own a car and probably a house.  We live in HUD-subsidized high-rise apartment buildings—stacks of tiny apartments, single-occupancy—surrounded by other old, poor, sick people.  Nobody lives here by choice.  It’s the only place we can cling to survival.

Meanwhile, you’ve got enough money to make choices.  You don’t have as much money as you want—I get that—and the way you see it, it’s my fault.  I’m tired of being blamed for your unhappiness, so go ahead and kill me and get it over with.  Cut all the public welfare programs.  You know you want to, so go ahead and do it.

Cut my HEAP (Heating Emergency Assistance Program) and let me freeze to death.  It happens.  Old people die because they can’t pay the heating bill.  Not a big deal.  I hear freezing to death isn’t really painful.  I would, however, prefer to have you put a needle in my vein and run in potassium.  That’s how we do capital punishment in the Big House.  The Supreme Court says it’s all right, so that’s good enough for me.

By golly, I do cost you so much money.  Food Stamps so I don’t have to eat dog food.  Paratransit so that I can get to the grocery store and spend my Food Stamps.  Medicaid transportation to take me to the doctor, except no doctor will take Medicaid so I have to go to a clinic where medical students will practice on me.  But I should be glad, right?  I should be grateful to get medical treatment that you wouldn’t tolerate for a minute.

Because . . . why?  I’ve never understood why you begrudge me survival.  You don’t care about me, I know that.  You don’t even know me.  I guess that makes it a whole lot easier to hate me and blame me for draining your income but I’m tired of taking the blame.  I want to be free of it, so will you please set up a euthanasia program for me?

There should be a proclamation for it:  Be it known by all persons that as Anne C. Woodlen, hereinafter referred to as the Poor Person, is sucking the life out of me, therefore I, the undersigned citizen, want her dead.  Let her be killed at public expense.  Then I can have more money, which, as we all know, will buy me happiness.

After the Great Depression we started all these welfare programs because we were still actively a Christian nation and we didn’t want to see anyone suffer.  And what happened is that we did not act wisely and we started down a dead-end street from which we cannot return.  Before public assistance programs, families had to take care of their own.  There was nowhere else to go, and people still lived in small communities where they knew each other.  They either couldn’t endure putting someone out on the streets to die, or they couldn’t stand the humiliation of other people knowing they’d done it.

Like it or not, people took care of each other.  Everybody had difficult relatives—the ornery spinster aunt, the alcoholic father-in-law, the crippled nephew—but they learned to accommodate them.  Somehow, the extended family would figure out how to care for the difficult relative and life went on for everyone.  There was no choice so you learned to cope.  (To be continued)

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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