Meet Diane and Lupe – two women with stories that Sen. Mitch McConnell may not want you to hear
Diane Morgan lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she works as an urban farmer. For many years, a lack of health insurance kept her from receiving an eye exam – which threatened her ability to renew her driver’s license and thus, her livelihood.
Lupe Mendoza is a single mom with six kids – five still living at home – in Walla, Walla, Washington. The pandemic wrecked her family’s finances.
Both Diane and Lupe stand to benefit from President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, albeit in different ways. And only if the plan passes Congress and includes the programs that would help each woman.
One in four Americans aged 60-64 is uninsured or under-insured. Seniors aged 65 and older have access to Medicare – but Medicare does not cover vision, dental, or hearing. Advocates of Build Back Better want to change that.
Diane is among them. “I knew that after 15 years of not having an eye exam, I needed new glasses, I needed a new prescription,” Diane says. “And the only reason I was able to do that was because of the last stimulus check. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have been able to renew my license, which would have led to all sorts of legal repercussions. That loss of vision would have hindered almost everything I do in my daily life.”
As Diane approaches Medicare eligibility, she says expanding the program “would help tremendously. Especially when you look at people like myself, who are older, and your income opportunities are much more limited. I would feel so excited to, first of all, get to a doctor and have that confidence that if something happens, I don’t have this big, dark cloud hanging over me.”
When the pandemic hit, Lupe saw her household costs exploding. Food costs spiraled and so did water and electricity – because the entire family was sheltered at home, all the time. Then July arrived, and with it, the first expanded Child Tax Credit. “The Child Tax Credit came, and it came when I needed it,” Lupe says.
Now Lupe wants Congress to make the expanded CTC permanent. President Bident has proposed continuing the increased CTC payments through 2025, and would make its help to the poorest families permanent. So does the Build Back Better plan coming together in Congress. If Congress does not act to extend the CTC, the expansion will end December 31. That would mean ending the increase from $2,000 to $3,000 for each child aged 6-17 and to $3,600 for children younger than 6. And it would deny the CTC to children whose parents earn little or nothing; once again, we would make them too poor to get help.
“It is a huge relief, not just to every individual family, but to the community itself — so it is pouring into the community, and it comes back,” Lupe says. “And it is going to meet the very basic needs of families. And when we’re able to meet the very basic needs of families, then we’re able to prosper and continue to keep thriving.”
Diane and Lupe shared their stories as part of a project launched by the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center. You can watch Diane’s story here and Lupe’s story here. You can also write your own letter to Congress here.