Millions of words have been written about Medicaid, and the failure to expand it, in Missouri. The words have fallen on deaf ears. Maybe we need to buy our legislators hearing aids? Or, maybe instead of words, we need to add lights….cameras….action, as in this two-act morality play about those who have misplaced their morals.
TIME: Spring, 2015
PLACE: Small town in Missouri
ACT I: Our hero is walking down the street carrying a heavy backpack. It is stuffed with money. On the corner he meets a man and woman who are having a bake sale. They are shivering in their threadbare sweaters and look frail and vulnerable.
MAN: “Would you like to buy a cookie? We’re trying to raise money so I can have surgery for my leaky heart valve.”
WOMAN: “We hate to ask for charity; we both work. I’m a home health aide and he’s a stocker at Walmart. We don’t have any health insurance through work and we make too much for Medicaid.”
MAN: “It would be nice to have a doctor so we don’t have to go to the emergency room all the time.”
WOMAN: “How about some pie? This is a new recipe for a pie called ‘humble.’”
Our hero ignores them, although the money is making his backpack very heavy. He goes to another corner, where he sees a man in a Brooks Brothers suit and highly-polished Gucci shoes with a Louis Vuitton briefcase open in front of him.
MAN: “Hey! Would you like to buy some managed care? We have some on sale today! And just for you, we are offering some real deals. Phone apps, to remind our clients of their doctor’s appointments (if they can find a doctor, of course). And exercise videos! And gift cards for celery for our overweight clients! But those phone apps, man! They are a real deal! But first, you may need this:”
The man whips out his checkbook and writes a big check to our hero, who stuffs it in his pocket. He then opens his backpack and dumps the entire contents into the man’s Louis Vuitton briefcase.
INTERMISSION: Audience comments: “We would NEVER do that.” OFFSTAGE VOICE: “But you just did. You elected people to your legislature who just voted to deny medical coverage to 300,000 low-income Missourians and throw thousands more onto the altar of managed care, where one company reported a 90 percent increase in profits last year. Do I need to point out that this is taxpayer money?“
ACT II: Managed care guy takes a bill and wipes a speck of dust off his shoes. To an aide, he says, “Get the jet over here quick. I only made $19.3 million last year; I need to get back to work!”
On the other corner, the bake sale man and wife are packing up their home-baked goods and wiping up the crumbs.