Cutting Deep

Imagine having to choose between paying your electric bill and taking your sick daughter to the doctor. That’s the kind of dilemma facing working-class families these days in Texas, where the state budget has been balanced on the backs of more than 150,000 kids who’ve been thrown off the health insurance rolls. Here’s what happens when the Legislature and the governor start cutting deep.

WHEN AARON GARCIA was fifteen years old, in the summer of 2002, he caught a cold that he couldn’t seem to shake. Then came the fevers at night that soared past 103 degrees and left his sheets soaked with sweat by morning. A football player and champion wrestler at Monterey High School in Lubbock, Aaron was a sturdy, athletic kid who had rarely missed a day of school. But that fall he grew sicker. He developed a stubborn cough and swollen glands, which did not respond to antibiotics. A rash spread from his waist down to his ankles. His joints swelled, and sometimes he became so weak that he had to lean on his mother, Sandra, just to walk. Diagnostic tests—for leukemia, lupus, and HIV, to name a few—came back negative, but Aaron’s health continued to deteriorate. One night that winter, when his elbows and knees ballooned to twice their normal size, Sandra rushed him to the emergency room. “Please help him,” she begged the attending physician, as she had done with others before, to little

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