By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Worries about the struggling economy and a broken health care system keep many of the patients at Tree of Life Free Clinic up at night.
“I work 40 hours a week and can barely afford to make ends meet,” said Tupelo resident Michelle Payne while waiting to see a doctor on Sept. 5. “Then they talk about taking Medicaid away from my kids? It’s not right.”
Payne said despite her five-year tenure at Chick-fil-A, she doesn’t have health insurance and doesn’t qualify for Medicaid herself. So she visits the free clinic for treatment of an as-of-yet undiagnosed problem causing her to retain fluid in her legs.
Like the dozens of other patients in the waiting room, Payne said she’ll vote for the politician who can bring good jobs and affordable health care to the region.
“I can’t afford medical insurance,” said Tracey Gibson of Tupelo. “That’s $400 a month for me. With my income, I could pay for insurance but wouldn’t have a roof over my head.”
“My biggest concern is the economy and them wanting to cut things for the elderly people and the disabled people,” said Daphine Williams of Pontotoc, who said she lost health insurance coverage when her husband became unemployed.
Amory resident Roy Lindsey said he worries about proposed changes to Medicare, which covers many of his health care costs.
“It doesn’t need to be changed,” he said.
His son, Mike, said he’s most concerned about the economy and lackluster job market. If politicians can’t figure out how to create more domestic jobs, he said, foreign powers like China eventually will take over.
Another man, who gave only his first name because he lives here illegally, said he simply wants an opportunity to become a U.S. citizen and vote.
“I’m just happy to be here,” said Pasqual, who came from Venezuela eight years ago. “I’m happy to be here and have the opportunity to work.”