Julie Marquis is California editor of Kaiser Health News. Before moderating a panel on Obamacare in the Inland Empire, she talked in the Zócalo green room about the ugliest piece of furniture she owns (which is on permanent loan from a neighbor), binge-watching The Good Wife, and the books she keeps on her nightstand but just can’t seem to finish reading.
If you didn’t cover healthcare, what would you cover?
I have an abiding interest in criminal justice. And immigration.
What do you eat for breakfast?
I usually skip breakfast—so, strong coffee. Later on in the morning I usually have some fruit and high-calorie cheese. I love Brie.
What’s the ugliest piece of furniture you own?
It’s basically a giant card table in the middle of my living room that I cover with a tablecloth any time I have anybody over. I borrowed it from my neighbor, and I never gave back. And she’s never asked for it back, either. It’s really ugly. [Laughs.]
What was the most important year of your life?
1980, when I was about to be a sophomore in college, and I decided to just quit and go around Europe on a motorbike. I went to live on a kibbutz in Israel, stayed in Italy for a little while and went to the art museums. Then I went back.
What relaxes you?
Binge-watching The Good Wife. And reading.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
Far From the Tree [by Andrew Solomon], which I never seem to be able to get through. I have split in two because I’ve manhandled it so much. I haven’t finished The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich [by William L. Shirer]—these are all my ambitious projects, which I put right on the nightstand but can’t avoid them. A Bend in the River [by V.S. Naipaul], I’m right in the middle of that. I have a lot of projects. All these books are open on my nightstand.
What’s your favorite cliché?
My favorite un-favorite—like I hate but I love it? “Welcome to the world of …” When I see that in stories, I just go, “Oh my God.” And the other one I really hate is, “She was not alone,” or “He was not alone.” It’s like, duh!
How do you procrastinate?
The Good Wife. And ever since I discovered Amazon Instant Video, I binge-watch anything having to do with any kind of murder mystery, good or bad.
What’s the most confusing thing about the Affordable Care Act?
I think the most confusing thing is the Medicaid gap. There are people who living on state borders who are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, and in the next state over you’ve got people who do qualify for Medicaid in that gap. It’s completely unfair and very confusing, and extremely hard to explain to people. It’s perplexing.
What’s hanging on your refrigerator?
Just tons and tons of pictures of family. I have two little girls we adopted from Guatemala—I should have said that was the best year of my life. I’m going to get in trouble! We adopted them in 2004 and 2005, and they’re all over. And I have two brothers, and their pictures are all over my refrigerator. And there are pictures of me doing embarrassing things, and my girlfriend making pronouncements.