Friday, August 15, 2008

SEIU to Count Down to Better Health Care with 365 Stories for Next 365 Days

Health Care Workers, Patients, Consumers to Speak Out About Challenges of Broken System

WASHINGTON, DC – With growing numbers of Americans calling on elected officials to fix the broken health care system, SEIU—the nation’s largest organization of health care workers—launched 365 Stories: Countdown to Health Care today.

SEIU’s goal is to help win passage of comprehensive legislation between now and August 2009 – when the new Congress will break for August recess - that ensures affordable, quality care for every man, woman and child in America.

Every day for the next year, a story from nurse, doctor, health care worker, consumer, or patient will be posted at

“This movement for quality, affordable health care is driven by Americans in every community in our country who face bigger and more serious challenges getting access to health care or trying to deliver quality care. Their stories need to be heard,” said Anna Burger, secretary-treasurer of SEIU. “By this time next year, we must build a new, American health care system that works for everyone. The countdown begins now.”

The first story came from Elizabeth Manning-Washington from Michigan:
I was at my last job for nine years, and for the last year I didn't have health insurance because I couldn't afford it anymore. The premiums had gone up to $140 every two weeks -- and when I started, they were just $60 every two weeks. So the premiums more than doubled even though my wages didn't go up.

My children had Medicaid, but I was one of those people in-between -- I didn't quality for Medicaid, and I couldn't pay for insurance. I learned about the Ingham County medical plan at a health fair, and it's been a lifesaver. I don't ever want to be without health care again.
When people don't have health care, they delay treatment until they get really sick. Then they have to go to the emergency room. It'd be cheaper to give them health insurance. It'd also be simpler.

I should know. When I didn't have health insurance, I went to the hospital for a severe asthma attack. All I really needed was to go to a doctor to get a prescription for an inhaler. But, because I went to the hospital, I got a bill for $11,000. I'll have that on my credit history forever.

The stories will include the experiences of:
A couple in New Hampshire who own a small business and got priced out of their health insurance. While scrambling to find affordable insurance through a small business pool, they put off tests that later indicated that one of them had cancer.

A doctor in Harlem who sees patients whose conditions become unnecessarily severe because they don’t have access to primary care.

A hospital worker in Florida who can’t afford to pay for insurance for her kids because her premiums have almost doubled in the last two years.

The 365 Stories: Countdown to Health Care is part of SEIU’s sweeping election-year effort to elect a new President and Congress committed to fixing health care – and then tap into that same energy to ensure those newly elected leaders immediately pass comprehensive legislation to make quality health care affordable for everyone.

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