Young Man Dies for Lack of Public Option
The truth is that there is a death panel.
Our nation’s health insurers routinely deny coverage to the sick which is, in effect, denial of care. People die. Without comprehensive health care reform — without a public option — the death panel will continue its work unfettered.
When television news broadcasts focus on the bullies shouting down others at town halls, when talk turns to Hitler and death marches and fear mongering of every sort, we lose the human factor in health care. We’re no longer talking about the high wire act we’re all performing with our health care.
Sometimes we have to stop all the noise and shine the spotlight on one person, one family suffering the unthinkable because of the state of health care in America. Theirs are the stories we need to hear. These are the people who know best how we’re all teetering on the brink of a similar scenario.
This is the story of the late Eric De La Cruz, as told by his sister, Veronica De La Cruz.
I want to tell you about my only sibling, my brother Eric De La Cruz.1
Diagnosed with Severe Dilated Cardiomyopathy five years ago and in need of a heart transplant, my brother Eric passed away far too early this July 4th. All because the health care insurance system in the United States is broken.
Click here to attend an event to support real reform – reform with a public health insurance option that prohibits discrimination or denial based on pre-existing conditions. We need to tell Congress to get it done.
You see, unlike most of us (but like millions of others), Eric couldn’t get private insurance. His employer didn’t offer it as a benefit. And his heart condition, while treatable, was a pre-existing condition that no private insurers would cover. Sadly, there was no affordable, public option to protect Eric. So he remained excluded from the basic right to life-saving treatment that all people deserve. Although a heart transplant would save him, without coverage, Eric’s condition needlessly and slowly deteriorated.
People don’t realize how vulnerable they are to the devastating costs – both in dollars and in human life – of an insurance industry concerned with one thing: profit. As a TV journalist and correspondent, I’ve enjoyed a public platform few have, but when it came to the health and well-being of my family, I’m as susceptible as everyone else. Despite a national online campaign and celebrity fund-raising that amassed nearly $1 million, and emotional and political support from thousands of strangers, Eric couldn’t beat this broken system. If it can happen to us, with all of THAT support, it truly can happen to anyone. In fact, sadly, it IS happening to thousands all over the country right now.
After Eric’s death, I went to Washington this August. I met in the offices of many Senators and Representatives to ask why there is even a debate about passing a strong health care reform bill that would provide all Americans with affordable, guaranteed health care coverage – a bill that would help control the spiraling health care costs that are bankrupting countless families and forcing people to choose between their money and their lives.
Everyone on Capitol Hill was sympathetic to Eric’s story, and most were supportive of legislation including a strong public option, but few seemed convinced the American people would lean hard enough on Congress to make sure it happened. We must convince them now.
At this critical time, we need you to stand up for reform that would have benefited my brother Eric, and the thousands just like him who are waiting for help now. Click here to attend an event in your area and help win reform now.
In fighting for Eric’s life, thousands of people joined forces to get him on Medicare, get him into a transplant facility and raise enough money to pay for his treatment. He just ran out of time. But the clock has not stopped for you.
Though Eric has passed away, he has not been silenced. Your voice can make the difference. By simply clicking on any of the links in this story, you’ll help ensure what happened to Eric doesn’t happen to your friend, your brother, your neighbor…or you.
Please don’t forget your insurance can disappear when you least expect it, because insurance companies CAN rescind policies. If you get sick and don’t have insurance now, insurance companies CAN deny you coverage for a pre-existing condition. If you get sick tomorrow, your life can be turned upside down because of your failing health AND runaway medical bills that can force you into bankruptcy. I know you think this could never happen to you. But it can. It happened to us.
We need to get a simple message to Senators: Join with the majority of Americans to support an affordable public option to lower costs, keep insurance companies honest and include everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions or income.
Help put a stop to these injustices.
Fight to make a difference, not just for you, but for future generations.
Veronica De La Cruz
1. Veronica De La Cruz speaking at a health care rally with Senate Majority leader Harry Reid in Las Vegas, August 31, 2009: http://www.lvrj.com/news/breaking_news/56471332.html
This is the very human face on health care; these are the people who matter. Their story could easily become your story.
Still worried about death panels? You should be… and that’s why we need solid health care reform — including a public option — NOW.
Many thanks to Veronica De La Cruz for allowing me to share her story on Care2.com.
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