Duffy, a disabled 52-year-old who runs a fruit stand, knows Benjamin’s story well: how she will treat almost anyone in her tiny medical office; how she accepts payments in oysters and shrimp when patients can’t pay cash; and how she elected to stay in this backwater after her clinic was ravaged by two hurricanes and a fire.
"I think she’s done wonders for this town," he said.
But ask Duffy what he thinks about the Democrats’ plan to broaden health coverage with a government insurance plan, and his brow furrows. Sounds like communism, he says. Or, at the very least, an overreach.
"Now we’re talking about [healthcare for] the whole United States, not just Bayou La Batre," said Duffy, a wheelchair-bound victim of an auto wreck whose medical costs are covered by Medicare. "I just don’t know how that’s going to work."
The difference between charity and legal mandates, like the difference between focused progams and general programs, and between local programs and a national system, is obvious to the common citizen. If only the powers that be in Washington had the wisdom to listen.