I Like Peace. Can I Have A Prize Too?
Ian's Death Sentence

The Faces Of The Un-Insured


I was just thinking to myself, why do I care so much about this health care reform issue?  Why have I written so many columns about it and debated it with friends and family? Of all the things going on in the world why is this the one thing that I keep coming back to?  Today Dr. Oz, who used to be a featured regular on the Oprah show and who now has his own show, answered my question for me.  With the help of the National Association of Free Clinics, Dr Oz put together the largest ever one day free clinic.  It was held in Houston Texas.  Why was it held there?  Because Houston has more uninsured Americans then any other part of the country. One in every three citizens of the greater Houston area has no health insurance.  The clinic recruited 700 volunteers, 200 doctors, and 300 nurses and opened at 7am but people started lining up the night before.  People from all walks of life came to be treated.  Some had not seen a doctor in years simply because they could not afford it.  Some had life threatening conditions and did not even know it. And some were too proud to accept charity but finally had no choice.  I watched this show and I have to admit, the stories were heart breaking.  Stories such as Gloria Molina, the 52 year old mother who wanted nothing more then to see her daughter graduate from college, but whose heart was working at only 25% capacity due to congestive heart disease and had no money or insurance to do anything about it. Or Steven Cantrell whose small blister on his lip had grown into a tumor and cancer that spread to his neck. Or 14 month old Analeigha Rivera, (see the Video Of The Day) whose mother Victoria had no idea, until the day she came to the clinic, that her daughter had a hole in her heart which if left untreated would eventually weaken her heart so much that it would kill her with in one year.  The stories and situations were endless.  That day Dr Oz and his team set a record.  In one 12 hour period they treated over 1750 patients, people who had no where else to turn, people who could not get insurance because of pre-existing conditions, people who had lost there jobs and could not afford cobra or private insurance, people who were on the verge of loosing there homes because they had to make a choice between paying a medical bill or paying there mortgage.  People like you and me, our neighbors, our friends, our families, our co-workers, people who had jobs but were still uninsured.  A staggering 85% of the people who came to the clinic that day were employed, and still could not afford or did not qualify for insurance. 

Watching this made me understand why I care so much about this issue.  It’s because Dr. Oz did what not a single politician, not even the President has been able to do.  He put a face on this problem of health care in America.  He showed me in the most heart wrenching way that health care reform is not a political issue, it is a human issue.  It is a issue of right and wrong, of good vs. bad, of big business vs. humanity, and all of us need to stop making this a political issue.  The President and all of the politicians in this country need to see the faces of these people who simply want the health care that so many of us take for granted the health care that we deserve as humans.  Our elected officials need to stop thinking so much about if they are going to get re-elected or not in four years and start realizing that this is about life, humanity, real people, children, mothers who cant afford to have there ovarian cancer treated because they lost there insurance and now they are un-insurable, fathers who lost there homes because they got laid off, lost there their insurance and now live in a one room hotel room.  This needs to become a moral issue for all parties involved. We need to do what is right for all Americans, because if this fails, if every American in this country can’t get the health care they deserve with out loosing there homes or going bankrupt, if we cant stop one American from dying every 12 minutes simply because they do not have health insurance, if we cant all see the human face of this issue, then together, Republicans and Democrats we will have failed. We can not let this happen for ultimately we will be judged by how we treat the neediest among us.


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