Medicaid Cases Need Restraint
“Are you sure you will be warm enough?” I asked Simon Quentin Lapius, M.D. as he stepped into the autumn chill.
“Certainly,” he said, wrapping a woolen muffler around his neck with a flourish. It was a rare occasion. Lapius had decided to greet the falling leaves. There was always a day or two during the year when he essayed a walk in the nearby park. He called it the commons, a throwback to his training days in New England.
“I like to see the color of the leaves,” he said simply.
Indeed, they were beautiful, fluttering their rainbow colors in the gentle breeze, carpeting the green with spangles of red and orange. Twigs leaned from trees that still were partly green as if searching for their lost offspring.
But the peace and quiet that Lapius anticipated was despoiled by massive crowds of men and women and children carrying placards of every description.
“Help the second wife.”
“Children of third husbands are discriminated against.”
“First husbands have to feed two families.”
“Doctors won’t take Medicaid patients. Where is Dr. Welby?”
There was furor and turmoil. A waving placard struck Lapius on the forehead. He grasped the shoulder of the culprit.
“Look here, you struck me with that sign. You should be more careful.”
“I am sorry,” said the young man. “But this is, after all, a protest.”
“What is the protest about?” asked Lapius, dabbing at his forehead with a handkerchief, then inspecting it for signs of blood.
“I have to support three families,” the young man answered.
“How did that come about?” asked Lapius, adjusting his bifocals.
“Simple. My first wife and I got a divorce. She’s over there with the sign that says ‘first wives are discriminated against.’ See her. The fat blond woman.”
Lapius nodded. “Well, then I got married again, had a couple of kids, but the thing didn’t work out. Now I have another wife, and two more kids and I have to support all three families.”
“That’s terrible,” said Lapius. “You are really in a fix.”
“Sure am,” said the fellow. “After all, I only earn $18,000 a year, and that doesn’t go very far with all those mouths to feed.”
“Quite a mess.”
“Well, it isn’t all that bad, because I am on welfare since my take-home pay is really negligible. As a matter of fact, there are my second and third wives carrying signs complaining that doctors don’t take welfare patients.”
Lapius peered at the two women, marching arm in arm with their placards.
“You mean,” asked Lapius, “that your second and third wives are on welfare too?”
“Of course. And my seven kids from the three marriages. Man, its rough. My first wife complains that I don’t give her enough money each month. My second wife is mad because my first wife gets more than she does. My third wife is mad and threatening to leave me because I have to give so much money to my other families. And we are all mad because the doctors won’t see us.”
“Well, well,” clucked Lapius sympathetically, “society has certainly conspired to deprive you and your wives and children of basic essentials. Wouldn’t it have been simpler if you had either remained married to your first wife, or at least had not children by your second and third wives?”
“Maybe, but my first wife remarried and had to take in two children from her second husband. He is paying alimony to my second wife. My third wife brought four of her children to our house. Things are tough, man, they really are. Society just doesn’t give us an equal break.”
“Perhaps,” suggested Lapius, “If you had restrained yourself from having so many children things might be easier.”
“That’s the trouble with all you establishment guys. You want to deprive us of the fruits of normal family life.”
Tossing a disdainful look at Lapius he raised his placard and marched off to join his wives and children, and cousins by the dozen who had conspired to spoil the one day of the year that Lapius deigned to put aside for his annual constitutional.
Lapius was accosted by the third wife. “What did he tell you?” she demanded.
“Nothing,” said Lapius, “except that you are lucky – you won the marriage derby.”
“Yeah, some luck,” she said. “I have to work to support his first two wives.”