Tuesday/newsday/blues day…

Despite new variants, despite 500 people a day still dying of COVID, the World is so over COVID. We don’t need to wear no stinkin’ masks. We can have huge celebrations. People can stop getting the vaccine and its boosters.* We. Have. Decided. “No more COVID. We need something more interesting for our Tik Toks.” That’s how pandemics work. We just decide that they are over. Just like we just decide with critical thinking skills that viruses are political issues, with party lines, and not public health issues.

There have been rumblings for a while that the federal government will decide that the virus is done, and apparently that looks like it will be official in May.** President Biden told Congress on Monday that he will end the national emergencies to combat the coronavirus outbreak on May 11. This came after he announced his opposition to the GOP’s desire to end it immediately — which would cause more suffering and chaos, which is the basic GOP platform slogan for everything any more.

Unless you are In The System Of Poverty, you may not be aware that part of the national emergency has been to cover Medicaid (the insurance for poor people) in such a way that more people are covered. They have done the same thing to “food stamps.” This coverage has been critical to many people, me included. With skyrocketing inflation this has been more so. COVID and inflation, how much fun can we have at once?

Unless you are In The System Of Poverty, you may not be aware of the weird “double-dipping” anti-logic used by government “safety net” programs. On the surface things to prevent double-dipping into safety net programs makes sense, but in practice? Oy, in practice! For example, because I am on Social Security Disability Income (I’m disabled and cannot work), after a year of that, “they” switch you to Medicare regardless of how old you are. Medicare has a monthly charge. I live well under the poverty line (as defined by the national government, which is just so ironic at times, considering their logic in poverty associated programs). I cannot afford the $165 monthly fees for Medicare. Aha! Enter the beneficence at the state level. This is for New Hampshire, but is true of other states as well. NH pays my Medicare monthly fees. Yay! And because I am very poor, Medicaid is my secondary insurance.

This is where the COVID thing happens. Because NH is paying for my Medicare monthly fees, they have me on this very weird Medicaid. I used to bill insurances, including Medicare/Medicaid, for doctors and hospitals. The Medicaid I’m on is called a “spend down,” and it is so weird we had to have a specialist do that billing. It is a pain in the ass and convoluted, and honestly I don’t understand it completely. Yay, Dept. of Health and Human “Services.” What my Medicaid boils down to, is that if there are medical costs that Medicare doesn’t cover (and that is a whole other book-length post), then the secondary Medicaid covers. Except with a “spend down” you basically have a deductible and mine is $300 a MONTH. Now, if I could afford $300 a month, I wouldn’t be under the poverty line, etc etc etc. NH is covering my Medicare at $165/month, but in their logic I can cover $300/month in Medicaid deductible? Ohhhhh… kay….

With the COVID emergency, everyone on Medicaid was covered as if they have “regular” Medicaid. In other words, no spend down. New Hampshire has preempted Biden’s May End Of COVID by sending out notice that my “regular” Medicaid ends March 31.*** After that, the spend down is in full effect, and I have NO idea how that will affect my bills or health care. Right now (and since I’ve been In The System) I’ve been covered under the emergency situation. Going forward? What will I lose? What bills that I can’t pay will surprise me?

Another lovely thing, because I am so poor, I qualify for subsidized housing. Yay! But according to the “logic” of such things, if you get help with housing, you will get virtually no help with food (food stamps). Apparently you can have a roof or you can have food, but not both. I’ve gotten a boost in my food stamp allowance due to inflation (yay) and so my monthly food allowance is… $18/month. All the food I can buy for $18 a MONTH. Yes, it is this largess that the GOP rightly fights to have curtailed! (sarcasm font, so hard)

With the COVID National Emergency, though, much like with Medicaid, everyone on food stamps gets regular food stamps and full coverage. For me, a single person, the full amount of food stamps available is $220 (give or take, I don’t remember the exact amount). That only covers food, not things like toilet paper, but I can manage on $220/month. It is tough, but it can be done. New Hampshire jumped Biden’s gun again, and is ending that program at the end of February. So, in March, I will once again get $18/month for food. I have no idea how that is going to work. (Yes, we now rely on the private sector and privately funded food banks…) Because of my disability, I can’t carry groceries down stairs and into my apartment, so the food banks are going to be interesting… sigh. I use Instacart when I can (because I can use my food stamps and my debit card) because I can’t carry heavy items.

Remember when our country used to talk about a war on poverty? In the last few decades, and it has gotten progressively worse, it is now a war on the poor.

Oh well. I need to lose weight. $18/month for food is one sure way to do that. Yay!

I’m so very glad that all it took was a group decision that COVID was over. Why didn’t we do that sooner if it was that easy?

*Only 15% eligible for Omicron-variant booster have had the shot (NPR 12/28/22)
**Biden to end COVID national emergencies (WaPo 1/31/23… could be behind a pay wall)
***NH DHHS ends pandemic related programs

Featured photo Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post


    1. It IS crazy. Food. In America. It should be a no-brainer. But the no-brains in charge (and no, I’m not talking Biden, this is long and hard and institutional)? When I speak to people, both in the States and abroad, about the craziness of being under the OFFICIAL poverty line in the USA, well they sputter and burble and say things like, “Surely there must be…?” and they will mention something commonsensical and all I can do is shake my head and sigh, “Nope.”

      The USA is not alone in stupid government policies, but it happens to be my country of stupid (cruel) government policies.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, soon you will be able to wonder at the rather bizarre politics in the UK where the Scottish government supposedly rules, but they don’t. Anything important has to be run by the real government in London and they invariably don’t like whatever the idea is. We have a similar thing in Wales except our ideas are not usually as good as those put forward by Scotland. But things could be worse – in Northern Ireland there isn’t even a sitting government to make stupid ideas! (To any UK readers: This is just my understanding of things as I don’t really follow politics – it’s far too complex!)

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