This holiday season, Georgeanne Koehler and her family will be facing an empty chair at their Christmas dinner table. Georgeanne's brother Bill died of a heart attack in March 2009. What's even sadder is that Bill's death might have been prevented--had he not been lost through the cracks of our broken health care system.
Before his passing, Bill found himself facing a situation that's confronting 27.4 million U.S. workers right now: he lost his job--and with it, his health insurance. He was not able to get coverage after that, getting turned by insurance companies like CIGNA, who refused to cover him because he had heart arrhythmia. Billy then took a job as a pizza delivery driver so he could keep paying the bills, even though his condition continued to worsen.
A ticking time bomb of the heart: On December 17, 2007, Bill collapsed at work and was rushed to the emergency room. It was determined that he would need a new defibrillator battery for his heart to function properly. Because Billy did not have insurance, he could not get the new battery he needed, the price of which - at thousands of dollars - was far beyond his or his families' financial reach. Billy was never able to afford the care he needed and when his defibrillator battery died, so did he; slumping over the steering wheel of his car on his way home from work on March 7, 2009.
Georgeanne knows that nothing can bring Billy back, but she's determined to fight this healthcare injustice. Today, the SEIU Healthcare PA member is holding a press conference to share her holiday wish for health care reform this year, to talk about the holiday card campaign she's organizing, asking that folks write down their health care story or message of support for reform and send them to her on holiday greeting cards or post cards. Georgeanne plans to deliver the postcards en masse to Washington, DC on December 17th to send a heartfelt, powerful message to our elected officials that America needs real health care reform done before the end of the year.
The Pennsylvania Health Access Network, along with Health Care for America NOW and the Service Employees International Union, SEIU Healthcare PA are supporting Georgeanne in her efforts. Send Georgeanne a holiday postcard with your message about health insurance reform through SEIU Healthcare PA's Pittsburgh Office: Georgeanne Koehler // c/o SEIU Healthcare PA // 209 9th St., 4th Floor // Pittsburgh, PA 15222