Health care crisis up close & personal

I work in Philadelphia with a group that is trying to get health care for all. Our overall goal is the passage of legislation that would create a government funded, single-payer health care system in the United States.

We support John Conyers’ bill, HR 676, referred to by some as “The Medicare for All Bill,” as well as state and local measures like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and just about any legislation that we feel will increase the availability of health care to working-class people.

A few months ago we received a request from Michael Moore, the filmmaker. He was looking for people who continue to work at jobs they hate because they need the health insurance coverage.

My sister is the person he was looking for. She was widowed about nine years ago, and she and her two grown children were devastated by the loss. Her husband had a small life insurance policy through his employer. That money was invested so that she receives a small monthly check to supplement her income from her just-above-minimum-wage job. The principal will be depleted by the time she is old enough to collect her husband’s pension.

My sister’s house, which she subsequently sold to her daughter, had been mortgaged so that she and her husband would have an income while he was dying. She lives with her daughter and her family because she really can’t make ends meet on her own. Her health problems are too numerous to mention and she has run up a sizable credit card debt because that’s the only way she can pay for her many medications.

Every day she goes to a job that requires her to be on her feet all day. She says it is better that she doesn’t get a chance to sit down because it hurts her knee too much to get up again. She alternates Tylenol with ibuprofen in order to get through the day.

Her insurance won’t pay for any invasive or other diagnostic procedures for her knee until she tries physical therapy first. She really needs hydrotherapy, but the facility that offers it closes before she can get there from her job. She lives in a small town with limited facilities. So she is caught between that famous rock and a hard place. No therapy, no relief.

Meanwhile, she keeps trudging (limping) off to her job working with the elderly, whom I know she loves dearly and cares for as if they were her own family. This is all to keep the health insurance that really doesn’t meet her needs.

When I asked her if I could turn her name over to Michael Moore, she refused — she said she would lose her job if her boss ever found out!

I have very personal reasons for working for the Conyers bill.