Posted on November 12, 2001

Joel Segal, Legislative Assistant to Rep. John Conyers, Chair of the Congressional Universal Health Care Task Force, responding to the comments of Carol Gross:


Dear Health Care Activists,

Most Members of Congress do not have a clear picture of how being uninsured and underinsured impacts the family or individual. This is a major problem. They think that an uninsured individual can receive their health care in an emergency room or a community clinic. Until members of Congress start receiving phone calls and letters from constituents who are angry and sick and tired of the American health care system, this is going to be a long and protracted struggle. We have to bring the pain and misery of this health care system into the Congress now! We need more stories like the one from Carol Gross; Cong. Conyers will put them on his web-site.

I know what it is like to be uninsured---- I used to raise money from friends, relatives, co-workers,and strangers whenever my medical equipment for sleep apnea broke down during the night. Blue Cross Blue Shield would not cover my equipment costs and various medical procedures for sleep apnea because it was a pre-existing condition, or it was experimental surgery. I have been kicked out of hospitals, once one day after major knee surgery because I did not have health insurance. I was often denied treatment for sleep apnea and prostate problems because I had unpaid medical bills. I owe over $80,000 in medical bills. My credit is shot--I cannot buy a car, a cell phone, or an apartment without somebody giving me a loan. My mother who is 72, has no money, because it went to all of my medical bills since I was 18 years old. She is totally stressed out because of her financial situation. This is the reality of our health care system!!

There are millions of Americans, especially senior citizens, who have chronic illnesses or are handicapped, and cannot afford quality treatment. There are millions that cannot afford private health insurance, and want decent coverage. We must organize these individuals and families. This can be done only if there is a grassroots organization with affiliates across the country, who can organize these folks into a strong and vocal movement for universal health care.


Joel Segal Legislative Assistant Rep. John Conyers, Chair, Congressional Universal Health Care Task Force