Sunday, July 19, 2009

Terry in Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Terry in Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Originally uploaded by walk4healthcare

Terry’s here in Greensburg visiting from Philadelphia. She shared with me the story of her mother’s untimely death, which resulted, in her estimation, from a nightmarish confluence of administrative barriers and inhumane insurance policies.

The story goes as follows. Her mother underwent a liver biopsy. This was on a Friday. As Terry explained to me, “She was done as an outpatient, but even though the surgeon said it was complicated, with ‘bleeders,’ she was not permitted by her insurance to stay overnight.” She returned home for the weekend. On Sunday, she went to the emergency room with escalating pain but was sent home again being told it was a ‘gallbladder’ problem. The pain still unbearable, she returned to the ER within three hours. “From what we learned,” Terry said, “there was a blood clot pressing on the bile duct.” She progressed rapidly downhill from there ending up three-and-a-half weeks in the ICU (battling sepsis). Six weeks after the biopsy she died.

Terry finished the story. “If only the insurance had been more flexible, had considered true medical necessity, in observing my mother the first night after her procedure, perhaps she would still be with us now.”

Ed at the King's & Queen's Restaurant & Hotel in Stoysville, Pennsylvania

Ed at the King's & Queen's Restaurant & Hotel in Stoysville, Pennsylvania
Originally uploaded by walk4healthcare

“I haven’t had health insurance since ‘92," Ed told me, when I asked him if he had any healthcare stories. “That’s when Bethlehem Steel closed down—so, no insurance, for me.”

I nodded. “I can understand. I don’t have insurance either.”

I don’t think Ed really heard me as he continued, “I’m glad I’m healthy because if not, I’d be dead.”

Ed plays quite a bit of soccer (he’s wearing his soccer t-shirt now) and he told me of an injury he had a few years back. He got hit pretty hard at a soccer game at the “Y.” “Got myself a gash on my head and some sort of shoulder injury.” And so he went to the emergency room. When he told them he lacked insurance, Ed told me that the doctor basically said, “Stitch him up and send him home.” Ed had an angry look on his face. “I got 27 stitches but they did nothing about my shoulder.” I suppose I could understand his displeasure as with all that he got a bill for $2,300. “I still haven’t paid it, and I never will be able to,” he said.

Despite these distressing stories, Ed was not really as sour as his tale would make him to be. We talked about quite a few other topics and he wished me well on my journey, closing in now, on Washington, DC.

Karl at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Karl at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
Originally uploaded by walk4healthcare

Karl, a volunteer Ambassador at the Flight 93 Memorial, told me he doesn’t believe in a government-run system. According to him, the ‘free-market’ is the best though he acknowledged that having insurance linked to employment was a problem. “Empower the individual,” Karl explained to me.

“So how about your own situation,” I asked.

“We're not well-to-do,” he said. “I get my health insurance from the state, a plan called ‘Special Care’ which is in between Medicaid and private insurance.”

“And how’s it going with that?”

“Very well actually,” he answered. “It’s not connected to employment status so I have the freedom to change jobs without changing my health coverage.”

[On a side note, Karl, in his presentation to the thirty some-odd gathered visitors at the memorial explained how about $40 million more was needed to complete the permanent Flight 93 Memorial. I recalled how anti-reform industry groups were spending (as reported by the Wall Street Journal) about $1.4 million a day in their selfish and grasping efforts to thwart (or worse manipulate) healthcare reform. That means that about a month of that spending (the time it took for me to walk from Chicago to DC) would cover the remaining cost of the Memorial—a tribute, as most know, to Americans who gave the last full measure of sacrifice for their fellow citizens.]

Contact your Members of Congress!!!

Hello Everyone!

As you know, Ogan is due to arrive in DC on Sunday the 26th.
This means we only have one week left to spread the word about it, and Contact Congress to ask they see him on our behalf upon arrival.

Now there is a VERY easy way for you to do it all in just a few clicks too!

This article below was published yesterday about the Walk; and it gives an overview of the movement while pointing out the strength is in blending both high-tech devises and “feet on the ground” activism.

“Where the Tech-Rubber Meets the Activism-Road”

At the bottom of each page is a Take Action link that reads:
“Meet with The People on Health Care, by Meeting with Dr. Gurel”

Follow this link and you will see: You can Contact Congress (both houses, add personal message), send the article to your local newspaper, then pass it onto your friends and family, and ask them to do the same! If you prefer to Call Congress, then there is a handy-dandy phone number lookup for you there instead. Calling can be a great way to get an answer back from your members of Congress too; just ask the person taking your call for a return call to get an answer if your rep will meet with Ogan, and then let us know what you were told.

If you would like to see more press on the Walk for Healthcare or want more to pass on to others, it can be found here:

The only thing that’s missing from the press archives at this moment is the interview Ogan just had with Dick Kay of Chicago’s Progressive Talk – great stuff, will post when ready!

Lastly, I wanted to thank everybody that has really stepped up to support the Walk. It has been a sight to behold, to see everybody coming together like this for health care reform. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate it! Ogan will be posting one incredible story about a supporter today too, so stay tuned…

Please let me know if there is something I can do to help you with this effort too!

Thank you,
Heather Meyer
Event Coordinator