Healthcare Worst Persons

Girl With Cancer Denied Assistance Under Michigan Welfare Law

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The potential consequences of a Michigan law that punishes families if their children miss too many days of school are all too real for a family that was cut off from assistance because their daughter's brain cancer prevented her from attending school.

A 12-year girl whom The Daily Beast refers to as "Lisa" was disabled by seizures and strokes resulting from brain-surgery, but the state Department of Health Services(!) couldn't give less of a shit.

Michigan kicked Martha, Lisa, and her two siblings off welfare. Thanks to a policy created by the department’s Republican-appointed director, the state can cut off households if their children are truant. The state Department of Health Services said 350 households have had assistance eliminated or reduced since 2012 as part of Michigan’s attempt to force welfare recipients to send their kids to class.

Our top priority is to keep kids in schools, and we want to use whatever tools we can to incentivize children to stay in school,” DHS spokesman Bob Wheaton told The Daily Beast.

If your reaction to this was similar to mine, you would have asked why the Department of Health Services is in the business of kicking children with brain cancer (or anyone else for that matter) off public assistance. In my case, that question came just after I muttered "what the fuck" to myself a dozen times.

It gets better, of course.

When asked how effective this policy of cutting parents off welfare was in getting children to go back to school, Wheaton said the department doesn’t really know.

That’s not anything we’re able to track because they’ve stopped receiving public assistance,” Wheaton said, adding the department has the “ability, in some cases, to manually cross-reference new-applicant [data] and current-recipient data.”

As terrible as this story is, I could not help but laugh my ass off at the purified, distilled incompetence.

This is not unlike Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's job creation program that had absolutely no mechanism for tracking how many jobs it created, but in this case the consequences are far more severe and inhumane.

This policy began as a pet project of the state Department of Health Services director in 2012 but, as you may recall, the state legislature officially codified the policy into law just two months ago in May.

This is Republican government. It's heinous, incompetent, and cruel.

Lisa died as a result of her cancer.

  • Stellours

    Shouldn’t it be ‘unexcused’ absences from school and wouldn’t her absence have been a valid excuse? Shouldn’t there be a social worker investigating why she was missing so much school and then turned in a report that it was valid and they should have been continued on the assistance?
    That’s why there’s so much wtf because there is no logic. Like watching a horror movie – part of the fear involves the story line not making any logical sense. (They never said why Jason was so pissed at everyone at that camp ground in Halloween for example).

  • Draxiar

    Holy Hell…I can’t even begin to have this make sense to me. I figure as soon as it does I’m the one that’s fucked up.

  • muselet

    It’s at times like this I wish I believed in Hell, because every one of the mosters responsible for this horror—every legislator who voted for it, Rick Snyder for signing it, the person who dropped Lisa from enrollment at her school, the dirctor of Michigan DHS, the judge who sympathized with the family but ruled that DHS had acted properly—deserves to be there.


  • Christopher Foxx

    When asked how effective this policy of cutting parents off welfare was in getting children to go back to school, Wheaton said the department doesn’t really know.

    “That’s not anything we’re able to track

    This is a standard feature of Republican policies. It’s a consequence of the insistently blind adherence to dogma.

    If they believe something is true, then it must be. Actual facts and reality are irrelevant. So there is no need to actually check on whether something accomplishes it’s stated goals. Because of course it has to. Because Republicans believe it will.

    “I know when I put this policy in place that jobs will be created, so there is no need to have a way to actually find out whether any jobs are actually created.”

    • Karen Marie

      Also, too, it doesn’t matter because everyone knows that government can’t create jobs.

      • Christopher Foxx

        And that the President can decide what a gallon of gas will cost.

  • captkurt

    Lisa died. Fuck. I bet, if you got him away from a microphone, and plied him with a few drinks, you might hear Bob Wheaton say “Hey, those moochers should be happy they have one less mouth to feed.”