The Medicaid work requirement will destroy families

That dermatologist should have won a prize for heroic patience. He was snipping off a slew of skin tags that had overtaken my eyelids during pregnancy. It’s finicky job in normal circumstances; but I made it dicier by asking him to snip as I held my squalling newborn in my arms. It was not my favorite way to spend an afternoon, trying to hush her, trying to stay perfectly still while my eyelids were trimmed.
I was in that ridiculous situation because I had to get the thing done ASAP, while I still had postpartum Medicaid coverage. My husband couldn’t afford to take time off work, and someone was babysitting my other kids, but wouldn’t take the newborn. At the time, my state only covered health care for adults who were elderly, disabled, or pregnant. Once you were done being pregnant, you got booted back off the rolls, and good luck scheduling all the appointments you needed in the thirty days after giving birth.
Lucky for me, I was young and healthy at the time, and excessive skin tags were my most pressing medical issue; so I was able to choose to homeschool and to stay home with my newborn daughter and take my chances with having no health insurance. Lucky for me, it wasn’t until after my state chose to expand Medicaid that I developed nodules on my thyroid and lymph nodes, plus debilitating anxiety.

Lucky for me, I’ve had those conditions treated under state subsidized Medicaid, and now I can go back to living my life, caring for my children, doing my job.

We are, by conservative standards, a model family. We aren’t lazy. We aren’t unemployed. We aren’t promiscuous or godless or druggies or perverts. We love our country. We volunteer. We give to charity. We vote. I’m a dedicated mother, married to a dedicated father who works full time. I work from home so I can care for my kids. We are a heterosexual, married, monogamous couple raising our children to work hard and follow the ten commandments.  Our kids study hard and have jobs after school. They volunteer. They go to pro-life marches. They’re all college-bound.
We are a Republican’s dream come true. But we can’t afford to buy health insurance. But we are insured, for now.
THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE. People should be able to go to the doctor when they are sick, even if they are poor. Women should be able to spend some time recovering from childbirth without immediately propelling themselves out of the home and back to work. Women should be able to consider the possibility of staying home with their newborn babies. People ought to be able to live a modest life — such as the kind you find yourself living if you work hard but just can’t inch above the poverty line despite decades of effort — and still be able to go to the doctor when they are sick.
A work requirement for Medicaid says: Don’t you dare be poor and homeschool. Don’t you dare be poor and consider caring for your preschoolers at home. Don’t you dare be poor and give birth to a disabled child who needs round-the-clock care. Don’t you dare be poor and find yourself caring for a disabled family member.
It’s not always laziness that makes people poor. It’s not always laziness that keeps people from earning a paycheck. Life is complicated. Caring for each other is complicated. People can’t just wake up in the morning and decide to have enough money. But Congress could wake up in the morning and decide to give states enough money to pay for healthcare for everyone. God knows they find enough money for the things they do want: endless wars, beautiful walls, you name it. The money is there when they want it to be.
I have friends with severely disabled children. These parents don’t work for a paycheck. Instead, they do the work of spending their entire day, and often much of the night, keeping their kids alive, with the help of state-subsidized Medicaid. Parents like these, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, should be grateful for the work mandate, which will be “restorative to people’s self-worth, sense of themselves.” Under the proposed law, that Medicaid that pays for life-saving care would be yanked as a penalty for the parents’ “refusal” to work.

People are going to die.

I’m starting to think that, right there, is the actual Republican’s dream come true.

***
Image by David Kessler via Flickr (Creative Commons)

69 thoughts on “The Medicaid work requirement will destroy families”

  1. I sympathize with many of your sentiments here – in a world running correctly, a mother would be able to decide whether to work within the home and a hard-working family would be able to afford health coverage. However, I don’t understand why your first instinct always seems to be to rely on the federal government for such funds or programs. Why? I am truly curious. As an advocate of volunteerism and most likely a contributor to your church, shouldn’t you be able to call on those groups closest to you when you need it? Can’t we ask local communities to come together to support those in need and care for their own neighbors? Churches, family members, neighbors, friends, etc. — these groups and individuals often rally together when something very bad happens – don’t you think they might also offer support when it’s just the trials of life piling up on a neighbor or friend? All that being said, I have generally enjoyed reading your perspective because although I sometimes don’t agree with it, it helps me better understand how those with opposing political views (whom I still respect) can come to their conclusions. However, it pains me that you cannot for a moment see any validity in claims alternative to your own (for example, the subsidiarity principle), and conclude your article by calling us Republicans murderers.

    1. I have to wonder what people who make comments like this actually think health care costs, and how much the average neighbourhood bake sale can raise.

    2. Allison, when my son, who has D.S., was born, he had to stay in the NICU for three weeks because of his cardiac and respiratory issues. The bill for that stay was over $300,000. Less that four months later, he had open heart surgery, which cost even more money. The charity of friends, relatives, and my local parish would not have been able to cover even a tenth of that.

      More recently, we’ve had to rely on charity from others; it was helpful, and we were incredibly grateful for it, but it hasn’t been enough. Thank God for Medicaid, and thank God I live in a blue state that values and protects special needs people.

    3. So how would a personal support network operate? Imagine you have been actually pooling your money with your friends for years in anticipation of helping each other in need. One year you get a heart attack. You ask your support system friends for financial support. They say no. They also, all of a sudden, have terrible illnesses too. You all are in your 70s. What do you do? There is no help from the government because he thinks you should take care of yourself. Your friends have betrayed you. Is it fair that you should have to forego care, and maybe die? Think it through!

    4. Churches wont help. They tell you to go to the State. Theyre for ppl who “fall thru the cracks” meaning the ppl refuse to work (not doing a dang thing all day, unlike a mom, etc) and for some reason the State’s not picking up the tab.
      Family n friends dont help; they are unable. Or they wont and tell you to go to the State, thats why they pay taxes, dammit.
      A tight, frugal community like the Amish would help. Thats a rare bird in our country.
      Good luck being the first to get try to get community help when you need 10s of 1000s of dollars of help. Or need help for an entire offspring’s childhood. The well dries up real quick, lemme tell u.

    5. American republicans are among the most despicable people in the world. Does that sound pc? No. Is it the truth? Yes. Please wake up you silly little girl, who thinks churches and communities would cover innumerable members’ healthcare. You are ridiculous.

  2. I’m honestly a man without a party at this point.

    The Republicans seem to be guided by the vision that the nation is a business and its citizens are resources.

    The Democrats are pro abortion to a ridiculous degree, as well as seemingly pro relativism and anti faith. (Suing little sisters of the poor sounds like a bad joke).

    I’ve been voting third party now for a bit. I’m tired of this. I just want the good governance party.

  3. I love your blog but I disagree on this. I am one working mother that would love to homeschool but my husband’s job does not provide adequate income for a large family nor great heath benefits so I work. You are asking the state to supplement your lifestyle choice. You are choosing to not be self sufficient because you can rely on the state to provide healthcare. It’s not fair to the rest of society. Benefits like Medicaid should be for those with a true need, not to supplement lifestyle choices.

    1. You talk as though there are good-paying jobs with medical benefits available for anyone willing to do the work, and that is simply not true. If Simcha didn’t have Medicaid, she would simply have no medical coverage, like before.

      Nobody is self-sufficient. YOU are almost certainly not self-sufficient. The society you live in is based on a complex web of subsidies, grants, government contracts, crony deals, public services, public infrastructure, public education, and a host of other ways in which your livelihood and lifestyle depends on the decisions and actions of millions of other people and hundreds of governmental and non-governmental organizations.

      Nobody should have to choose between adequate medical care and being able to raise their children–which is what Simcha is describing when she talks about the unpaid work caregivers do in families, particularly families with particular educational or medical challenges.

    2. To that I would say, the public school system’s “lifestyle choice” (not in every case, but generally) to promote a Godless liberal agenda is one that we’re all forced to co-sign. $$$ And then get snippy with families who sacrifice in many ways in order to educate their kids? Simcha’s main point is still valid: American citizens who can’t fund the oppressive premiums will be punished in a most personal way.

    3. Actually, by saying that she should work instead of stay home you are assuming that she can get a job with a high enough salary to cover childcare. With childcare so expensive right now, a parent would need to be able to make more money working every hour than he or she pays in childcare to make it financially feasible. You are also assuming that any job she finds would give her enough hours to qualify for this new plan. I have three jobs and still don’t get the 20 hours per week they would require to qualify for Medicare. This law would be distasterous for families already struggling to get by.

    4. My husband and I both work. We work as much as physically possible; in the past that was him with one full- and one part-time job and me with a part-timejob; one year he lost his job and we worked 8 part-time jobs between us. Then I was able to find full-time work and he cobbles together as much as he can by working the equivalent of a full-time professor’s job at two colleges, but receives half the pay.

      Anyway, even when you have two parents working as hard as they can, you might not be able to afford health care. We are not.
      Not to mention the fact that the stress of our work schedules and getting our school-aged children to their public schools in a horrible city school system has helped to bring us to the point of divorce.

      Being “self-sufficient” is not a prolife concept, either, btw. In case that is something that matters to you.

    5. Having a child or family member with special needs or disabilities is not a lifestyle choice. My cousin has a degenerative health condition that is hereditary and has been passed on to both her children. She is unable to work, despite desperately wanting to. Her husband works 60+ hours a week and the healthcare his job offers is crap. They can only afford to cover him through it. Were it not for government programs like Medicaid and long term disability, they would be so far buried in medical debt that they would have been bankrupt a hundred times over. And they are mid-thirties. That’s a lot of life left to live. I am tired of people acting like everyone on the dreaded government programs are there because of “lifestyle choices.”

    6. It costs the taxpayers more to send your kids to public school than it does to keep them at home and pay for Medicaid for the mother.

    7. If your kids are in public school, then you are asking the state to fund that lifestyle choice. Public education does cost money. You are choosing to not be self sufficient and rely on the state to provide education….is that right ?……”it’s not fair to the rest of society??? “

  4. I agree with Anne. We pay so much in taxes. We do not qualify for anything because we make too much but not enough. No help with college. No help with food. No help with medical expenses.

    1. then you probably dont want to hear about the free ride foreign students get at colleges. As an academic, I am suprised that taxpayers subsidize so much outside education as we refuse it to our own.

      1. I’m an academic too, and I’m confused by your comment. In general, American universities profit by accepting foreign students, who are much more likely to pay full, out of state tuition. Many / most universities do not offer financial aid of any kind to international students. I’d be interested to hear more about what exactly it is you mean.

      2. Not all colleges — perhaps this is true at yours, but I know of many colleges (including my alma mater, a small women’s college in New England) where foreign students are veritable “cash cows” because they pay tuition in full.

  5. Also, I believe Simcha is self-employed/halftime freelancer and her older kids are indeed in a public charter school. So the barb about homeschooling is irrelevant.

  6. Thanks for writing this. My wife and I are in a similar position and I’ve never heard anyone else say this before. We’ve been married almost 6 years and have had 3 births and 5 pregnancies. In that entire time, I’ve either been in law school or self-employed (read: no insurance and making a livable amount of money for a family of 5). She stopped working right before we had our first. We barely make enough money to pay our expenses. It’s not as if we’re struggling to eat; we’re relatively comfortable, but only because of our frugal living and because we’ve been deferring our student loan debt for way too long. My wife has received Medicaid benefits each time she has gotten pregnant which has been a tremendous blessing, especially when our first had to spend a couple of days at a children’s hospital shortly after he was born. I am sincerely grateful that my fellow citizens supported us in that time. We would have been absolutely buried under that debt and the potential debt of the two ensuing labors and deliveries were it not for Medicaid. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but then I think, “Do I want my tax money to support other people in this position? People who are homeschooling and starting businesses?” Of course I do! That’s who I want to support. Still, it’s hard not to feel like I have failed as a man in providing for my wife and kids by relying on the government at this time. Have I failed? Tell me I’m not a failure! Has your husband dealt with that? What I really wish is that we all had communities that supported each other – whole neighborhoods, towns, and cities that supported the noble pursuits of their citizens who felt called to live a certain way, not just because they wanted to, but because they believed this was the best thing for our society. I don’t WANT to live paycheck to paycheck by being self-employed. I could get a steady job that provided benefits and my wife could go work to make minimum wage so that we could put our kids in daycare, but HONESTLY and I PROMISE YOU, this isn’t the society you want. In closing – we’re all doing our best.

  7. We paid dearly for health insurance over the last 20 years because we are the owners of a small business with, of course, no access to employer provided insurance. We have one child with a condition from birth which was not life threatening nor did it affect his ability to live a normal life. BUT it did make it necessary for us to purchase very high premium insurance which covered only him. We also had to pay for an additional policy to cover my husband and I and our daughter. We did not qualify for Medicaid or whatever public assistance might have been available at that time. However we only had two children (not 10) — that was our lifestyle choice! We wanted only the children we could support ourselves. I don’t begrudge people having large families. BUT if I can’t afford to support a large family, I would rather the amount I pay in taxes (which is considerable,by the way) not go to someone else’s large family. I truly believe God provides-but I don’t believe He provides at the expense of others. Thanks.

    1. You are describing the sin of envy. Not just wishing for someone else’s goods, but wishing to deprive them of it. A much darker sin than reflexive jealously, according to my Catechism.

      1. Tiffany. I am in no way envious. And I certainly don’t want to deprive anyone of their joy in having a large family. I just don’t want to support their choices by having the taxes I pay provide free healthcare for them when I have to pay for my own. I realize no one is self sufficient but I have never received a charitable “handout” from any agency-government or otherwise.

        1. The classical definition of envy is a desire not to possess a good for ourselves — but to desire that another be deprived of it. I’m not defending the US tax system or current healthcare snafu but the facts are the facts. We who qualify, under the law, are the object of ire and a source of envy. You would deign that your material earnings do not benefit us. Have fun with your kids, and keep reminding them of of their self-sufficient pedigree! We outnumber you anyway.

          1. Of course you outnumber us because of all the offspring you have. I looked up envy and the definition says nothing about wishing to deprive another of their possessions or good fortune. You are reaching there. I might wish to be wealthy like Bill Gates but I have no desire to take away or deprive him of what he has been intelligent enough to accumulate. I am certainly not envious of large families. I don’t want to deprive them of the joy they receive from said family. I just don’t want to support them with Medicaid. Most of these families probably don’t pay much in taxes either because of all the deductions they get for their many dependents. But I am not envious at all. Maybe you have a different “Catholic” definition for envy.

        2. Public education is a government handout. Taking tax money from everyone and utilizing it for only a few (kids in K-12). But very few people pitch a fit about having to subsidize the education of their neighbor’s kids.

          1. Ive been pitching a fit since i was 17 and realized this fact. Im 52 now. No one listens to the fitpitch-ers.
            Corporate america is HUGELY subsidized also; no one bitches about that. Welfare reform can start at the corporate level. HA. Never in a million yrs.

  8. I keep forgetting I’m a leach, until I read all these Catholic people with their uber swell, well-planned families. L O L thanks, Sonja Farmer, your commenters are amazing.

    I’m sure they all have such pained, polite resistance to other dubious, publicly-funded problems such as the prison industrial complex, war machine, and outrageous college aid subsidies, right?

    Or is it just families whose size two generations ago were the norm, which receives their wincing ire?

    My husband generally earns six figures — we have in the past paid nearly $2k a month for insurance. We don’t even go to the doctor, like literally ever. I qualify for & gratefully use Medicaid every time I’m pregnant. Which has been so many times! That’s how I stay on the fatted calf of luxurious “government assistance”! I inferred from the one commenter it should only go to ignorant junkies, not idealistic breeders. (“those who truly need it…” hm, Dorothy Day has a quote for that, asshat).

    Again, thank you for the primer ~ bowing out now. It has been fun.

    1. Tiffany,
      You sound like someone who is entitled. I completely understand Disne’s problem. She pays a huge amount in taxes that benefit you, pays for other people to have insurance, AND has to pay for her own insurance but can’t get any kind of assistance herself when she needs it. Your reply to her is self serving and entitled. No compassion for her position. You only care about you and what you get from the system. You who qualify under the law are not a source of envy. It’s people with your attitude that are a source of ire. You act like you deserve other people’s money, and to heck with whether or not they themselves get the medical assistance they need. Most people don’t earn 6 figures like you and your husband do. They manage on $50,000 or less and still don’t get help with Medicaid like you do. Your assumption that everyone who replies to you is Catholic is funny. It seems you have certain expectations that if someone is Catholic, they should automatically and happily fund your Medicaid for you, even though you make 6 figures. You cut who you think are Catholics down without thinking about how self serving and selfish you yourself sound. By the way, my husband and I do not make 6 figures, and thanks to Obamacare, we pay $1,300 a month for a premium that used to cost us $346 a month. And we pay a very high deductible. We live within our means so we can buy our insurance. I have no problem with people who truly need assistance being on Medicaide. I do have a problem with people who act entitled like you do. While I agree with most of what Simcha wrote, for her to call republicans ( of which I am not one) murderers is just ridiculous. Let’s not forget who started Obamacare. It wasn’t republicans. And maybe you should learn to have more compassion for people in need who can’t get Medicaide, or for those who are paying for other’s insurance and their own and can’t get assistance when THEY need it.

  9. It was a nice blog post, right until the last line. I think the piece is great until the unsubstantiated claim that Republicans true dream is to be murderers.

    Obviously the plan is garbage and both sides of Congress could really care less about their people. But when we make up ridiculous claims that are derived in slander and gossip, we begin to destroy our souls.

    Please don’t be so blind to say things like this. Let’s make it to heaven.

    1. Actually, about Congress…

      Calling and complaining to your Congressman’s local office (more likely to be heard than if you call their DC office) may not be a bad idea.

  10. Anne and Disne: You make an excellent point about not having to pay the price for someone else’s lifestyle. When you think about it, it IS pretty un-Christian to have to pay the price for someone else’s choices, isn’t it? Jesus would NEVER…

    Oh.

  11. Oh my gosh! Your commenters jump down everybody’s throats!!! Attack a working mom who does so, so she can obtain health insurance for her family and tell her the children are suffering. It’s hard not to feel a bit jealous when you make such choices to stay above the poverty line and other people choose to not work and qualify for Medicaid. No, health benefits are not available to all people through work, but they sure are available for a lot of work positions, especially for certain college grads with well chosen degrees. But hey, let’s all stay home, raise our kids and get literature and sociology degrees while expecting the government to subsidize our lifestyle choices and judging people who disagree with us and calling them asshats because we feel defensive.

    1. Oh my gosh! Your feigned delicacy while insulting people (right down to their choice of college majors…) is adorable.

    2. You do realize that life doesn’t go as planned, right? I had a well-paying job that provided fancy health care, which I had to quit to take care of a special-needs child. As he’s gotten older I’ve started working again, but what do you know, over the last ten years or so employers in my current industry have stopped hiring full-time, specifically so they don’t have to pay for benefits. And this is a trend in many other industries, not to mention all the other fields that have historically never offered benefits.

  12. So much for being able to choose your kids education if you’re poor and want to homeschool. Kind of undermines the voucher system, doesn’t it?

    I sympathize with trying to fix a broken system that penalizes for trying to get out of it…Which sounds like what they’re trying to do here. Not sure this is the way to do it though, for the reasons you list.

  13. So hey, let’s get Medicaid moms working minimum wage part-time so they deserve healthcare. And since they’re low-income, let’s make sure the sign up for subsidized or free daycare.

    Yep. Makes total sense to sign them up for two entitlements that all of the taxpayers can fund. And once their kids are old enough for taxpayer-funded free public school, let’s add the kids to that system too.

  14. Just as an outside perspective here (I’m Canadian) I find it surprising how much this is seen as a contentious issue. In our country everyone has access to the basics of medical care. Our system is not perfect (long wait lists for test and procedures for example, lots of waste due to beurocracy etc.) but at least everyone can go to a doctor when they need to, regardless of their income. Our country is still doing ok economically, and although there is some abuse of the system, there is not a huge culture of entitlement.

    Our premiums cover the basics, and if you want extra coverage (eg. Dental, prescriptions, private hospital rooms etc.) then you can purchase extra coverage.

    As far as I’m concerned, it is a human right to have access to the basics of healthcare, and this is something that generally needs the coordination of a government to supply (in Canada it is the provincial governments that are responsible for health care, although the federal government provides some subsidies as well). I’d rather my tax money go to help people who are sick than most of the other things they spend it on.

    Also staying home to care for an infant is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ people. It’s not an ‘unnecessary luxury’. Anyone who says that a mother should be forced to go back to work after a couple weeks cares more about the economy than the family and should not call themselves pro-life.

    1. If there was such a thing as reincarnation, I think I’d ask God to let me be Canadian. My husband once worked for a Canadian company, and still talks about how nice they were. They could also drink him under the table. Maybe there’s a correlation.

      I just want to be nice. God please only let me be kind from now on! Only kind.
      We might move to Seattle. Maybe some of the nice has trickled down from the North. My son told me that people in Michigan are shockingly nice, so I’ll consider it something to hope for.

      Anyhow, I don’t know of anyone who goes to the doctor or squeezes out a baby for fun, so it’s a bit strange to think that universal health care is a wanton indulgence. (Strange–they seemed to have it in Mexico when they wouldn’t let me pay for the I.V. bag and the Montezuma’s revenge.)

      But I’ve been yelled at and misrepresented, misquoted and called a Dorothy-Day-hating-meanie-poop-that-wants children-to-starve-so-they look-nice-in-their skimpy-bikinis for even going near this subject.

      I know I don’t sound sincere, but I am. I’m truly sorry that I ever brought up the remote possibility that anyone on the planet might be guilty of actual welfare creativity. (That must only happen here, among my own relatives and within a 25 mile radius of where I live.) So guess what? I don’t care anymore . Really. Not anymore. What’s ours is everybody’s and we’ve been saved from dying like Dives or the rich fool by big government. I publicly apologize for ever making anyone feel in the least bit bad for thinking that the people who run big government are rascals (who have special premium benefits that they vote in). –They all look like sweethearts compared to whom we just voted in. Come back! If St. Therese could avoid melting down and go looking for the mean nun that would splash her with Tuberculosis infested snot water because the convent participated in group handkerchief washing and Kleenex hadn’t been invented yet (true story). I can put up with my work challenged family members, and take full ownership of all of my own slothfulness that is often very creative.

      We’re all deadbeats. (I’m a deadbeat that keeps postponing a luscious colonoscopy) –And we’ve got much bigger fish to fry now.

        1. Lol 🙂
          I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it, but I’m a little paranoid of snow. I can’t even find my car in a parking lot in the summer.

          Driving on icy roads seems like such a bad idea too.

    2. Your first two paragraphs are why it’s so contentious here. Universal healthcare is being represented as “it’ll be just like it is now, but free!” when the reality is that now we have private rooms, same-day appointments, tests that are done and read before your illness progresses too far to treat, etc. Even before Obamacare, hospitals had to treat patients regardless of ability to pay (when people showed up in the ER certainly, and, though it’s a *lot* of red tape to avoid charges of Medicare fraud, many physicians also donate services when needed; around here there are also regularly held free dental and medical clinics).
      Your second paragraph is what people expect not to have to do here: lower tiers of care for those who can’t afford the extra insurance to get private rooms, more physician choices, etc.
      I completely agree with your last paragraph; the push for a work requirement will not help families at all. But Obamacare is not a sustainable solution, nor is the attempted GOP replacement especially good at getting to some of the root problems (though the latter plan should be more sustainable.)

  15. Some of these comments are so sad, and I think they largely result from a devalued view of children and marriage, and an unfortunate dependency on birth control in our culture. Why would we imagine people should only have the number of children they can afford…as if anyone could calculate their costs ahead of time and preplan what salaries parents will make. What happens if the economy changes for the worse midstream dear planners? Too bad? Never have children? This view of life with its obsessive calculating, blaming, fear mongering is no doubt a product of a culture that thinks it should plan children with birth control. It’s the politburo.

  16. Some of these comments are so sad, and I think they largely result from a devalued view of children and marriage, and an unfortunate dependency on birth control in our culture. Why would we imagine people should only have the number of children they can afford…as if anyone could calculate their costs ahead of time and preplan what salaries parents will make. What happens if the economy changes for the worse midstream dear planners? Too bad? Never have children? This view of life with its obsessive calculating, blaming, fear mongering is no doubt a product of a culture that thinks it should plan children with birth control. It’s the politburo.

    1. I didn’t get that most comments were quite as awful as you read them. A couple people seemed to be saying that, in their prudential judgement, they needed their resources to care for the children they already had and had to *sacrifice* their plan of a large family in order to care for those they had without public assistance. This is hardly out of line with Church teaching or trust in God. I believe Simcha has written before about how trust and prudence are *both* virtues and aren’t to be set up in opposition to each other. But people who have made various sacrifices in order to use their resources as best they could according to the lights God gave them are getting jumped on for being selfish.
      Rather a lot of commenters have said they don’t qualify for help, but are still barely scraping by, watching their own healthcare prices skyrocket and struggling with paying more to subsidize people even poorer. And I do think it sounds entitled for others to call them vulgar names for that. (Not that you were the guilty party there.)

      1. Well, the word ‘entitled’ was used numerous times as was ‘lifestyle choices’. I have no issue with people being prudent about adding to their family if they are already in a difficult spot. But many of these folks don’t seem to have thought through their position when it comes to what they view as large ‘entitled’ ‘lifestyle choice’ families. In other words sometimes children come along even if you were trying to be ‘prudent’. Also, sometimes you have beautiful gifts from God while in a good financial, place only to have the luck change. But many people in our day and age will absolutely insist that ‘responsible’ people use birth control and or abortion to prevent these ‘lifestyle choices’ from affecting the taxes they have to pay.

  17. You present a well-written, reasonable argument with a perspective I begin to consider, then just blow the whole thing up with “Republicans’ dream is for people to die”. I’m so offended and disappointed by your gross generalizations and condescending rhetoric lately that I find I can’t read you anymore.
    We don’t know each other in real life, but I have a real affection for you and a deep respect for your mastery of the craft of writing. I voted for Trump and am a registered Republican. Not thrilled about it, but I made those political choices the same way most of us here did: with prayer and discussions and not a little angst.
    But way before those choices, I am a thoughtful reader, and before that, a fellow smart and smartassy Catholic mom doing her quasi-kinda best-ish every day. And you won’t even give me the benefit of the doubt anymore, won’t even consider that I may, in good faith and using reason, arrive at a different conclusion.
    Your writing used to take me from the mundane to heartbreak to impossible hope and back to the mundane again. The everyday was transformed; it had layers of meaning, and I was–and am–grateful for that. Now when I venture back to read you, your voice just dissolves into the ocean of screed flooding the internet and airwaves here in DC.
    So maybe the best I can do is visit you in the archives. I hope I am narrow-minded and overly sensitive. I hope my reaction is “on me” as a reader, and everyone else is taking from your pieces what I miss now. Best to you and yours. Heart emojiconthingie.

    1. Colet, you hit the nail on the head. You are not overly sensitive on this topic. The benefit of the doubt is definitely missing and that is a very sad development. ACA is great for Fisher family, but causing other families to now not be able to afford *their* health costs…and these families are chastised for not being Christian.

        1. Simcha has previously spoken of the advantages of the aca for her family. I am in total agreement that the work requirement is awful. This particular blog post was specific about the work requirement, but also covered a bunch of other aspects of health coverage. I could have left the aca comment off and just left the agreement that the rhetoric makes for a lousy environment for a good discussion. I decided to remark that the aca gives to some, but only because it takes too much from others. Some commentary don’t seem to know that and some don’t seem to care.

  18. I think we all have an intrinsic sense of FAIRNESS — meaning, it’s most common to agree that what you get from something should depend on what you put into it.
    This is just my interpretation, but I think what bothers some of the commenters above is the unfairness that they’re working hard, making sacrifices and not quite living the lives they want to live, so they think it’s unfair that someone else who they perceive to be working less hard is able to live the way she wants to live.
    I chose to work fulltime outside the home, put my children in public daycare and public (or sometimes Catholic) schools, and strictly limit the number of children I had. This worked for our family, but it would not work for everyone’s.
    What if my own daughter said, “I’ve decided to get married, subsist mostly on my husband’s income, be open to as many children as God gives us, and stay home to raise them” — I have thought about this, because now that she’s an adult, anything is possible. I probably wouldn’t explicitly discourage her, but I admit I would worry about how it would all turn out.
    So where am I going with this? I think that for me, the bottom line is, do we want children to suffer for their parents’ choices, in the interest of keeping everything “fair?” I certainly don’t.
    My children had access to healthcare because they grew up in a two-income family with plenty of resources. Some of the taxes I paid over the years no doubt went to support healthcare (and other benefits) for families who made different choices than mine. And I don’t have a problem with that — I want ALL kids to have access to healthcare, regardless of whether I agree with the choices their parents made.

    1. That’s a very kind & measured response. I think my tone probably prevented me from making any point at all — I apologize for being defensive and crazy. If I had the time or inclination to really type out our family’s story, not just drop a few incendiary details, maybe it would sound more appealing. But your well-reasoned example of simply “Live & Let Live” speaks better than I probably could.

      We do not currently have a high income. I’m happy to apply for the things that will protect my family from financial ruin or cause despair for my extremely hard-working husband. I think it’s gross that we qualify, all things considered! I have been on the other side, narrowing my gaze at the “recipients” of “my” material wealth. Having been humbled through various circumstances I do say I’m grateful — didn’t know Medicaid Moms was a demographic, but you’re free to label me that way.

      In other countries and cultures, there is a value placed on family sanity, unity and creativity. Americans truly seem to believe the wealthy are morally superior (President Trump maybe being an exception, ha) or more savvy. Yet we have no collective peace. No sense of shared burden or identity. There is no one to laud the lifestyle choice of frugality, leisure, simple daily generosity. We want to see a tidy spreadsheet that says no burden & no risk. I’m haunted by the same Protestant work ethic garbage and pray to be relieved of it. Many Catholics have shown me a better way.

      Again apologies for getting heated & personal over something that is better resolved at the macro level. Thank you for writing this, Simcha.

    2. I’m a little stuck on ‘strictly limit the number of children I had’. What would that mean? I have a hard time with this kind of statement. I assume it means birth control? And now our culture lives with this mindset….that children are either extravagant luxury items or a drain on resources. This is what contraceptive mentality looks like in our culture. Children used to be a gift from God.

      1. I’m not a devout Catholic, nor do I pretend to be. I originally wanted to be child-free, but I fell in love with a partner who wanted a big family, and we compromised. Not every woman is called to motherhood, and even those of us who change our minds know our limits. I don’t consider kids to be a “drain on resources” — I simply didn’t want to go through pregnancy/delivery/breastfeeding again, even though my (ironically non-Christian) husband had wanted more. From a strictly secular point of view, deciding to follow medical advice and not put my body through another pregnancy and c-section seemed wise. (And I won’t have the contraception debate here since I already stated I’m not a devout Catholic, and this is already too far off the main subject of the post, so you will have to imagine whether I was using artificial birth control or using NFP with a contraceptive mentality.) Peace.

        1. The main point I guess I’m trying to make is that our culture has developed attitudes towards children and towards large families as a result of contraception being used by many people. Many people view contraception as their own personal business. My point is, people now say things like “be responsible” and really mean, ‘ your offspring are a drain on my resources, use birth control’. What was their personal business then becomes their outlook for all society. Overall culturally, that’s what I see. Peace.

          1. Humans can be judgmental. (Even I can be, and I actively try not to be.) There is the “what’s-best-for-me-is-best-for-everyone — one-size-fits-all” mentality, and I see it all over, on all sides. I’ve heard on one hand that everyone SHOULD be open to life, and more people should have large families — and on the other hand that everyone should NOT have more kids than they can adequately support themselves. And you know what? In the end, people are going to decide to do whatever they do, and what they opine about others doesn’t really matter.
            I’ve lived most of my adult life in Japan, where the birth rate is dropping for various complex reasons, but overall, the human race seems to be a doing a great job, re-populating itself.

  19. Totally OT, but did you know that skin tags are related to carbohydrate metabolism? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17988334 Don’t know if skin tags are an issue for you outside pregnancy, but if they are, you might want to consider removing as much sugar and bread from your diet as possible – you may be a strong candidate for Type 2.

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