The story of Deamonte Driver has been brought to my attention by a commenter here. It is a sad story. No, it is a horrible story. Unfortunately, the true story is not what my reader and worthy detractor has indicated.
It is not a story of how people die because of government-funded healthcare. Deamonte and his family qualified for government-funded healthcare, including free dentistry.
The story of Deamonte Driver is the story of a mother who neglected her children’s needs until one of them died. She apparently did not do anything at home to prevent tooth decay. She did not get them the free dental check-ups that they were entitled to. She let her Medicaid lapse when she moved and did not make sure that it got reinstated. She claimed that she had trouble finding a dentist who accepted Medicaid.
It is a story about the horrors of poverty, but far from showing that government can dispel those horrors, it shows the inability of government programs to do so. When a mother refuses to avail herself of the free, life-saving services she is qalified for, what is the government supposed to do next? Should a healthcare “system” actually go pick up the kids every six months for their routine dental appointments? Shouldn’t the mother do something herself to provide for her kids?
Don’t get me wrong. It is absolutely horrific that Deamonte died, especially in what had to be a horribly painful way. If I had my way, he and his brother would have been rescued from their neglectful mother long before it got that bad. My detractors, who exploit his death to push their political agenda do everyone a disservice. They dishonor his memory, they excuse neglectful parenting, and they imply that the rest of us are cruel and heartless.
I am neither cruel nor heartless. My children have gotten dental care, even when it was hard for us to pay for it. My wife or I would work two jobs if we had to, or beg from our friends or relatives to make sure that our kids were not suffering from rotten teeth. That’s because we care. In addition, as much as we are able we give money to those in need. We believe that no child should die from a bad tooth, and if anyone we know is in need of money to get a cavity filled or to have a tooth extracted, we will be glad to help as much as we can.