The reality of health care is all around us, if lawmakers would bother to really look
“If living were a thing that money could buy, then the rich would live and the poor would die.”
In yellowing family photos, my grandfather’s eyes dominate — dead, pained and hopeless. He could barely draw a breath, his hands shook and he stood only with pain. A master carpenter, he had accepted any kind of work to support his four children and wife during the depths of the Great Depression, work that exposed him to toxins, sawdust and tiny deadly flakes of asbestos. As he and his family journeyed back and forth across the Texas-Louisiana border, his lungs wore out. Emphysema led to heart failure and then multiorgan failure. Finally, he died at age 72 in Charity Hospital in Shreveport, La.
His story was not unusual for the 1950s and 1960s — the years during which he suffered with little medical treatment or pain control and only the care his family could provide. He died in 1962, three years before Presi-
Suffering chronic illness while receiving little treatment is a story of health care’s past. It shouldn’t be part of our future.