I remember one afternoon listening to my mother telling me how it was in the work world. I was still in college and although a management position was open at the grocery store where she worked that she was more than qualified for, she told me that she wasn’t permitted to apply for it. I was floored.
My mother had reached the hiring ceiling at the store. She was a department head, but any assistant manager or store manager positions were reserved for men. Their attitude was that men had familial responsibilities that women didn’t share. I pointed out that she was now a single mother with a daughter in college and a younger son who was deaf. But that fact, she was told, was her problem.
She would go on to remind me of the fear she had when attempting to get credit in her own name when newly divorced from my father. That was only two years earlier. The only credit she had was based on my father’s. That’s how it was in those days. But she persisted, established credit in her own name, and eventually bought a home.
She had divorced my father in 1974, requesting only $200 per month child support out of fear of his reprisal. Even the judge was shocked at her request, but my mother convinced him that $200 was enough. My father had threatened her with the warning, I’ll give you more if you let me live.
When I moved into the city to be closer to the college I attended, he increased the amount he sent to $300 per month. She sent me half for the final two years in college to help pay for some of my living expenses. Upon graduation, he stopped sending any child support at all for my brother, only thirteen at the time.
You see, it was possible to get ahead on the books back then. And by increasing the child support on his own without an order to do so, he in effect paid it forward. She could do nothing. My father knew exactly what he was doing when he did it. He manipulated the situation to his advantage like always. But then life was always about him and always by his design.
So it wasn’t surprising in the least to read about Senator Pat Roberts’s snarky mammogram tweet. In fact, I expect nothing else from Republicans. Their jihadist fervor surges while gleefully taking this benefit and that program away from the most vulnerable among us. But mammograms? Do Republican men not realize that men develop breast cancer? Now we can argue how many and how often we need such tests, but there should be no argument that insurance should cover them. Jenna Amatulli reports in an article from The Huffington Post:
Republican leaders are reportedly discussing whether their legislation should abandon Obamacare’s essential health benefits rule. The rule requires insurance plans to cover services that include emergency room visits, hospitalization, outpatient services, maternity care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, lab tests, preventive care and pediatric care.
Another reason Roberts’ response is off-putting is that many men get breast cancer or need mammograms. This year, an estimated 2,600 men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and an estimated 440 will die from it. If a man has certain gene mutations or a family history of breast cancer, screening may increase the chances of early detection and successful treatment, according to the Susan G. Komen foundation.²
And now I read that these pissy people want to give a new mother only sixty days at home with her infant, forcing her to find a job or lose her benefits. Let that sink in. From Christine Cauterucci in Slate:
The worst provision in the manager’s amendment is a Medicaid work requirement that would allow states to revoke Medicaid coverage from new mothers who haven’t found a job within two months after giving birth. Medicaid currently offers essential resources for low-income women and their children, including screenings for postpartum depression, in-home educational visits, and check-ups, all of which help babies survive and mothers thrive. Forcing women to job hunt in the weeks immediately following her baby’s delivery—a crucial period for infant care and physical recovery—would be both shockingly cruel and counterproductive as public health policy. Even if Republicans don’t believe that every person deserves basic health care, regardless of income, they should recognize that the government has an interest in keeping children healthy. Healthy children become good students, responsible citizens, and productive workers. Cutting off health benefits from a mother in the first several weeks of her infant’s life sets both the mother and the infant up for a cascading set of impediments to physical and financial health.¹
I have to believe even the so-called new guy’s supporters are watching this travesty unfold in as much shock and horror as the rest of us who knew better than to ever trust this guy in the first place. Everyone suffers under the Republican’s death care bill. Well, apparently not the wealthy among us who can afford a membership at Mar-a-Lago, but then that’s a given.
My mother died from COPD and congestive heart failure in 1996, one month before her sixty-sixth birthday. In fact, as I write this, the twenty-first anniversary of her passing is in a couple of days. She had plans for her retirement and her condition prevented any of that. Within four years of her forced retirement, she was gone. Had she been alive now and experiencing what she did, she’d no doubt be in a panic over what coverage she was losing and need endless breathing treatments just to be able to, you know, breathe, talk, remain alive.
Even back then, representatives from Medicare told me that their only concern was that she could ambulate from her bed to the bathroom. All she wanted was a smaller liquid oxygen tank to take to the store with her. They had delivered a concentrator instead of liquid tank set-up and left her with a portable E-tank to take with her. The problem was, it was too heavy and awkward for her to use so she would go into the store without it and nearly die in the process. They didn’t care and refused to replace the concentrator with a liquid tank.
When we moved her from the Portland area over to Central Oregon for the final year of her life, her experience was better. For some reason, healthcare over here actually was patient-focused and not whatever that other nonsense was she experienced and she received everything she requested. Actually, I arranged it for her, insisting that she sit down before telling her what I had done. She was so thrilled to discover that she would no longer be confined to the house. They were leaving her not just one but two small liquid “backpack” tanks that would allow her to be away from her home for eight hours if she chose. It made all the difference for her in that last year.
At the heart of this is compassion for all. If we can send people to war, we can fund universal health care. To suggest this shouldn’t be a right for all who live in this country speaks to hearts hardened through a fundamental disregard for humanity itself. We’re viewed as less than, in the way of furthering their agenda.
She would have turned eighty-seven on May 8th, had my mother lived. She would have voted for Hillary and called me daily to rail at what the Republicans are now doing. She despised men like the so-called new guy. She’d had her fill with men like him early on in life, and thought he was a fool back in the day, so voting for him would have been out of the question.
The photo above was taken at my wedding in 1979. I was twenty-one and still had brown hair. I miss you, Mom and I love you beyond measure. You would have been as bereft as I over the outcome of the election, and hearing your outrage would have been so welcome now!
- Cauterucci, Christine. The AHCA Would Force New Moms on Medicaid to Find Work 60 Days After Labor. Slate. March 22, 2017.
- Amatulli, Jenna. GOP Senator Sorry For Joking About Mammograms, But Still Won’t Cover Them. Huffington Post. March 23, 2017.