Trump Has Faced Less Punishment Than Three Women in Mississippi Arrested for Getting Health Care for Their Kids

I can't stop thinking about this story. The Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration announced last month that law enforcement had arrested and charged three separate women for committing fraud against the state's health insurance system, which falls under its TennCare program. Two of the women, Nikki Carr and Nakina Brooks, face 24 years in prison for defrauding Tennessee for under $10,000 by using TennCare. The third, Nancy Smith, faces 27 years in prison because her fraud cost $24,000.  They were charged with multiple felonies, including theft of property through TennCare, and held on between $20-30,000 in bail. 

What were their exact crimes? What was so heinous that they may get decades behind bars? They live in Mississippi and were using a Tennessee address so they could sign up their children for TennCare and get them health care. Read that again: they were getting their kids health care. The "theft" was reimbursements to medical care providers. 

Let's put an even finer point on it. Carr and Smith live in Olive Branch. Brooks lives in Southaven. They are both in northwest Mississippi, right near the border with Tennessee. They are suburbs of Memphis. It's like someone from Pasadena going to Los Angeles; hell, it's probably a shorter drive or bus ride for the women to get to Memphis from their homes. The next nearest city is Tupelo, about an hour and a half away. Memphis is probably where they work. That's how it is when you live near a big city. 

I haven't been able to find out why the three women, none of whom appears to have known what the others were doing, took this route. But I can assume. Beyond the fact that Memphis has an entire medical district filled with, you know, hospitals and medical centers and more, Mississippi ranks at the absolute bottom of just about every measure of medical care. Tennessee's nowhere near the top, but it's sure as hell isn't Mississippi. And we're talking about health care for kids here. It makes absolute sense that the mothers would go to the best and most convenient place they could for their kids. Maybe Mississippi's Medicaid and CHIP systems are such shitshows that TennCare, which administers both and has its own problems, looked better. Either way, none of this should be an issue for anyone.

So we can look at this and go, "Goddamn, these cases are just another avatar of how well and truly fucked-up health care is in the failing United States." Like, seriously, the funds went to medical providers, not to the women. What fucking civilized country punishes people for wanting their children to see good doctors? The answer is virtually none. No other fucking rational country on earth would arrest anyone for this. And we're actually arguing over taking health care away from people, as an Amy Coney Barrett-infused Supreme Court likely will. What barbaric shits too many of us are. 

But we can look at this and go, "Goddamn, how shit is our justice system if Carr, Smith, and Brooks are facing prison for years for this?" And you can take that in all kinds of directions, like the ludicrous oversentencing of non-violent criminals. Or the criminalization of something that should be a human right, something so very Jean Valjean that there should be a goddamn musical about it. Or the way bail is even a factor here. 

Or perhaps, as you probably have by now, you're thinking, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. These women, at most, got Tennessee to pay a total of $40,000 for medical care for their kids. And Donald Trump..." And then you don't need to tell yourself anything more because you know exactly what you mean. Trump defrauded the government of tens of millions of dollars, if not more. He has broken so many tax laws and campaign finance laws that they could literally throw the law book at him and just charge him with whatever is on the page it lands open on after it bounces off his enormous casaba head. Three poor women probably don't stand a chance while Trump may very well end up paying a bullshit fine and admitting no wrongdoing. Hell, Trump defrauded people of millions of dollars for his not-university and he used his charity as his own piggy bank, and those hurt far, far more people than Carr, Smith, and Brooks, and he walked away with barely a scratch on his cheap platform shoes.

You wanna even attempt to make America great (fuck "again")? Then give a shit about how we've created a system that rewards such savage inequality. And, as soon as Biden is in office, demand we make it so health care isn't a fucking game of chance.