Q: What's the Opposite of a Miracle?

A: What the state does to the families of people who die while poor

State Sen. Nell Soto (D-Pomona) is sponsoring a bill that would partly defang the Medi-Cal recovery squads. It would exempt sons or daughters of deceased Medi-Cal beneficiaries, who had taken care of their parents, from having to pay a Medi-Cal claim if that would mean giving up their home. It would keep the state from seizing assets from a surviving spouse. It would keep the state from taking the assets of a blind or disabled child.

Soto's seems to be reasonable legislation, but similar bills have failed to become law each of the past four years. And following Gray Davis' multibillion-dollar electricity bailout, and George Bush's trillion-dollar sop to the rich, such luxuries as not seizing the homes of the poor, blind, and disabled may become less affordable by the moment.

Already, in the next county over from Linfoot's home, supervisors must decide between failing to build a new dog pound, and thereby falling afoul of state animal cruelty laws, or closing down the county's system of community clinics. "For the 25 percent of our county residents who don't have health insurance and can't find a doctor who will take Medi-Cal, the clinics are their last resort," says Tehama County Supervisor Charlie Willard.

In San Francisco, an extremely wealthy city with a historical commitment to caring for the poor, we will share a special responsibility for the poor, and the elderly, and especially the poor and elderly during the coming storm. For those of us who live under rent control, or who benefited from our just-ending economic boom, perhaps it's time to pause a moment, ponder our priorities, sip a glass of red wine, and kick in a little money to, say, the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.5

1 http://www.marinij.com/ 2 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." [John 2:1-5 RSV]

Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it. [John 2:6-8 RSV]

When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." [John 2:9-10 RSV] 3 Copyright 1967 by Alan Wilson

4 "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," fromThe Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

5 Or, if you prefer, the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp., Omega Boys Club of S.F., La Casa de las Madres, Coleman Advocates, Columbia Park Boys & Girls Clubs, Legal Aid Society of S.F., Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights, or your local church, synagogue, or mosque

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