Since I do home care for a living, the GOP efforts to reduce spending by changing and in some cases doing away with the programs that pay for this service are of interest to me. The services I render to these people are paid for through NYS Medicaid. They receive food stamps and one of them is eligible for a HUD subsidy to assist in paying her rent and utilities.
My clients range in age from 52 to 91. They are mostly women. Two of them live with family who do as much as they can for them. Those are the clients that get the least amount of hours and have health issues that qualify them for much more expensive nursing home care. Nursing home care can cost around $6000 a month and is not paid for by Medicare. In the cases where there is no real property or money in the bank for the nursing home to acquire, Medicaid pays the difference between the resident’s income and the cost of the care.
I don’t have a client that makes more than $750 a month. These women that I care for worked the bulk of their lives at a time when a good wage was less than $6 an hour. Social Security is based on one’s income. The amount of income these women received for their labors doesn’t translate to the higher amounts that people can receive now with higher minimum wages in place. Even drawing on their deceased husband’s income isn’t helping since they too didn’t make as much as employers are paying now.
Every time I read the latest GOP idea on how to cut entitlement spending I think of these women. Almost all of them would lose food stamps, HUD subsidies, or HEAP. With their income frozen and the cost of housing in this area, they will be forced onto the streets.
The average rent here is between $400 and $500 a month with no utilities. It gets pretty cold here so these women would have to make a choice between eating and heating their homes in Winter. The sheer volume of people affected seriously by these cuts would place aid far beyond what churches and other charitable organizations could handle. Unless, of course, those charities were funded by the likes of the Koch Brothers or the executives at Goldman Sachs. I somehow can’t see that happening. They like their money too much.
What kind of society are we that we seem to have no problem telling a 91 year old woman who outlived her children that she can’t collect enough to live on anymore? What about my 64 year old client whose only child died in Iraq? How can the government tell her that she hasn’t earned the right to collect enough to minimally subsist on?
I can’t begin to grasp the ideology of the Tea Party and the GOP without thinking of all these people that I and others like me care for every day. It’s almost as if we’re going backwards to the 19th century where men like Vanderbilt, Astor, J.P. Morgan or J.D. Rockefeller were kind enough to pay starvation wages to their employees so that they could enjoy the conspicuous consumption of the Gilded Age.
On the other hand, when I think about the entire situation, I am grateful that these heartless individuals worship the likes of Ayn Rand rather than William Nolan or George Clayton Johnson. If I have to live with an ideology born of fictional works, I much prefer “Atlas Shrugged” over “Logan’s Run”.