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Poor People's Campaign

How I Lost BadgerCare and What Happened Next

Testimony given by Joyce Frohn at the Poor People’s Campaign March in Madison, WI, on March 2, 2024. Thank you, Joyce, for sharing your testimony with ESTHER in this blog post.

2024 Poor People’s March Wisconsin

In December of 2023, I knew that I might be losing BadgerCare.

I should first explain why I was on BadgerCare. My husband is on disability. He has an auto-immune disease that makes him not only unable to work but also in pain almost all the time. I am also a caregiver for my elderly parents who are in senior living and can’t move to assisted living until financial matters beyond my control are finished. Since I need to make sure they take their pills twice a day, I can’t take most jobs. I’m trying to make a living as a freelance writer, but that income is neither sufficient nor predictable.

During the pandemic, both my college student daughter and I could stay on BadgerCare. But as the post-pandemic “unwinding” began we were both worried. What pushed me over the limit was one simple thing: my husband’s disability check was increased.

That increase—$200 a month—wasn’t enough to cover the house taxes that went up, the fuel bill that went up or even the grocery bill that went up. But it was enough to kick me off BadgerCare.

“The Poor People’s Congress, A Moral Call for Revival” occurred. What was it like?

In Washington, D.C. from June 19th to the 23rd “The Poor People’s Congress, A Moral Call for Revival” occurred. What was it like?

         All of it was wonderful, through it was woven facts so serious and stories so powerful that those who attended are different than when we got on that plane in Milwaukee.

       This is called the “Third Moral Reconstruction”. The first one was the one that rewrote the Southern Constitutions to have more rights and guaranties than many Northern ones. That ended in bloodshed and tax cuts that left the government unable to fulfill its duties and generations of voter suppression.

      The second Reconstruction was the Civil Rights movements of the 1960’s. There were great gains until it ended with violence, the end of many public amenities in the South, and massive tax cuts. What are Conservatives preaching now? Tax cuts and restricting voting. The kickback is always worst when poor people are united, not divided by race. That was the history lesson.

        “Lift from the bottom. Leave no one behind.” Bishop Barber said, “If you aren’t willing for everyone to be helped. You aren’t part of this movement.” Which explain why we were from so many states, races, sexualities, and every other variety of human diversity.

      The economics lesson was clear. Poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in the US. No other democracy has a poverty rate like this, especially the childhood poverty rate. The poverty rate is shockingly racialized. The white rate of poverty is almost as low as England; it is the rates of poverty among other racial groups that leads to the US having a poverty rate higher than Costa Rica’s.

       The biggest thing we learned was the chant. “Forward Together. Not One Step Back”. What this means is that if the poor people of America and those that are one minor accident from becoming poor stuck together; they would be one third of voting Americans. That makes poor people one of the biggest voting blocks in America.

      We assembled in front of the Supreme Court to hear testimony, not to march. We heard from one woman from Nebraska who ate on alternating days with her husband eating on the days she didn’t. At least until food stamps gave her more money, because she was in the last trimester of pregnancy. At the hospital, doctors scolded her for not taking care of herself and the baby.

      Another woman was a successful teacher, owned her own house. American success story: until she got cancer, ran out of sick days, was fired and lost her insurance. She went into the hospital for a mastectomy, and was discharged to a homeless shelter. Her house was sold to pay medical bills.

       Each story was clear, poverty is systemic. Poverty is unjust. Poverty is not a personal issue. It is a policy choice.

 

Post written by 

Joyce Frohn

 

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