Workers skimp on health care while greedy millionaires fight real reform

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Here’s the latest example of how far corporations will go to stop real health care reform. Rick Scott, a multimillionaire, is putting $5 million of his own fortune into an ad campaign against President Obama’s health care plan. But what Scott doesn’t say in his ads is that he ran a company that had to pay the largest fine in history for Medicare fraud.

According to The New York Times, Scott was ousted as head of Columbia/HCA by his own board of directors in 1997 amid the nation’s biggest health care fraud scandal. The company pleaded guilty and paid $1.7 billion to settle charges, including the overbilling of state and federal Medicare programs.

Scott’s plan for a market-driven health care system likely won’t find much support among the millions of Americans who work every day and have to choose between buying groceries or taking care of serious health issues. Workers like “mosnowbird,” who is losing his sight but can’t afford to visit a doctor.

Responding to the 2009 Health Care for America Survey, sponsored by the AFL-CIO and our community affiliate Working America, mosnowbird writes that despite employer-provided health insurance, “I still can’t afford to have the cost taken out of my check—over $100 a month is too much. Even then, I couldn’t afford the $75 co-pay.”

But the real crime is that like so many of those who can’t afford the health care they need, mosnowbird’s health is suffering for lack of care.

I have uncontrolled high blood pressure. I have done what I can to lower it, but, I am supposed to be taking pills for it. I can’t afford to see the doctor to get the prescription refilled and can’t afford the pills.

I have recently gone blind in my left eye, I don’t know why. [I] can’t afford to see the doctor. I am very scared there might be something seriously wrong, but I can’t [afford to] see [a] doctor. I have to choose between food, rent, utilities or health care. Guess what wins?

Share your experiences with us. People taking the online survey have the option of telling their health care stories in their own words—in writing or in a video. Click here here to take the survey. You also can vote on the story you think should be highlighted.

Among the questions this year’s survey asks are:

* How has the economic downturn affected your household in the past year? * In the past year, have you or has someone in your household lost health coverage because of losing a job or changing jobs? * Are you able to get the health care you need at a price you can afford? * How much did you and your household spend out of your own pockets for health care in the past year?

We plan to share the results of the survey with national and state leaders and the media. Congress, the Obama administration and the media are hearing about health care reform from drug companies and insurance companies. We want to make sure they hear from working families as well.