Monday, September 3, 2012

Thinking About Food Stamps on a Rainy Ohio Day

Sunday was a humid rainy day and just a great day to stay home and either watch the ball games, weed the vegetable garden, or write a blog.  Well, I did not do any of those projects.

My 96-year-old mother-in-law was complaining of side pains, which had been going on for two days.  Sunday morning when my mother-in-law got up and was still complaining, my wife and I decided the pain was more than the usual aches of an elderly lady and took her to the emergency room of Akron General Hospital.

Long and short of it, my mother-in-law has low-grade pneumonia and was prescribed some antibiotics after the well over 6-hour wait.

But for me the highlight of what was a very long visit was to watch the diversity of people coming into the hospital waiting room.  Many of those being admitted were elderly, some appeared to walk off the street, and there were a few young folks suffering from some sprain or broken bones. 

As I waited in the lobby one particularly vocally loud white guy was lamenting the rising cost of food. He did not blame the cost on diesel fuel or the drought.  Rather the blame was on “Obama’s Food Stamp Program.”

Another guy talking to him announced he was going to run for a local political office----again white---and he was upset with the wasted government spending of tax payers’ dollars. In his words, “too much waste in the schools.” He was a retired Summit County Sheriff who benefited quite nicely as a public employee and was well vested in a good retirement program. 

As patients were being admitted the standard question was do you have insurance?  Some were fortunate like my mother-in-law who had both Medicare and private insurance, another had VA and Medicare insurance and several had no insurance. 

I guess my irritation was with the guy blaming the food prices on Obama.  Though he may be a nice guy, spouting his position publicly in front of people with all different income earnings was in poor taste.  Essentially he was stating, if you don’t have a job---go hungry.  And though I don’t like to guess a person’s thoughts he was likely annoyed with the uninsured that walked into the waiting room. 

The good thing is that there are many employed men and women who have never needed food stamps and they have always had health insurance.  But a change in the economy or a sudden disability may require many people to seek out government assistance.  Fortunately there are programs like food stamps and the soon to be Affordable Care Act designed to help people get a footing again and survive during a change in their economic status. 

(And of course, most of the young interns were likely recipients of federal grants and loans allowing them to complete medical school!)

I actually left the emergency room feeling a bit guilty---you see I have adequate retirement income and good health care and in some respects it was just plain luck that in my lifetime I never had to seek out government assistance.

No comments:

Post a Comment