Macro Social Work

An Open Letter to Congressman Jason Chaffetz

Dear Congressman Chaffetz,

You don’t know me but I am social worker in upstate New York. I am not in your constituency but I am concerned about your remarks on CNN today…


I appreciate that you then attempted to correct yourself but even that fell a little short in my book.

I have spent the last 14 years as a social worker, mostly serving youth and their families. I did work briefly with adults but I have served mostly people who relay on Medicaid, Medicare, and other safety nets like the ACA. People with multiple chronic conditions struggle with many questions about their finances, but I assure you what Iphone they choose is not one of them. That “self-reliance” as you call it is dependent on many factors.

Young people and their families struggle with choices every day…

Do they pay their copay or buy groceries?

Do they not hospitalize their child in an inpatient psychiatric unit because the nearest         one is 45 minutes away?

What do we need to cut so that we don’t become homeless?

I made $5 too many at my job so I lost my Medicaid benefits, what do I do?

How do I report my landlord who is doing shady things but also keep housing?

Not once; not one single time in my 14 years of serving the most vulnerable has someone had to choose between an IPhone and their healthcare. Your statement and even the “correction” is endemic of the GOP view on this population. That poverty comes with this fantastic menu of options. That those with multiple health conditions can just “pick and choose” where their money goes. By continuing to endorse idea’s like “High Risk Pools”, “Health Savings Accounts”, and Tax Breaks; you continue to ignore a huge segment of the population.

Healthcare costs that are often so astronomical, the price of their cell phone is the least of their worries. That basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter are a daily struggle. That finding transportation and childcare come with multiple barriers. That people have access to mental health care that helps them get out of bed to begin with.

I understand Obamacare is not perfect. My fear is what any GOP replacement means to those on the borders of the poverty level; too those with multiple and/or chronic health conditions. My hope is that you and others in the GOP listen to this segment of the population. Also understand that their choices are much more complex than how they are going to pay for their IPhone.


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