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.

Click here to sign up to attend an event to support health insurance reform – reform with a public health insurance option to keep the insurance companies honest.

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.

At this critical time, can you help support reform that the American people want and need? Click here sign up to attend an event in your area.

Help put a stop to these injustices.

Fight to make a difference, not just for you, but for future generations.

Thank you,
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:

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 

More on the Public Option from Care2 bloggers:

Goldfish and the Public Option

The Public Option is on Life Support

Fight for the Public Option


W. C
W. C3 months ago

Thanks for the information.

William C
William C3 months ago

Thank you for caring.

Dale P.
Dale P7 years ago

Don't worry folks. Such policies wouldn't get past congress, because if it did "WE THE PEOPLE" would have to empty out the Capital (those folks just love their adultry too much, just ask Bill C., Newt G., Bob D. etc.).

Marion Y.
Marion Y8 years ago

The Public Option LIVES!!!!

For months now D.C. insiders and T.V. blowhards have said the public option is dead, but Senator Michael Bennet (CO) just proved them wrong and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Jeff Merkley (OR), and Sherrod Brown (OH) have already stood up to join him.

These four Senate Healthcare Heroes are circulating a letter calling on Majority Leader Reid to use reconciliation to pass healthcare reform with the choice of a public option.


Thanks to your hard work, 120 House Democrats signed and delivered the Polis/Pingree letter to Harry Reid a little over a week ago.

Four Senate Healthcare Heroes saw that leadership and your hard work -- and aren't sitting around and hoping for change -- they're taking the lead and making it happen.

Think of it this way: if this was a football game, House Democrats threw the Senate a Hail Mary pass and these four Senators just caught it. But now, they have to score the touchdown. That means we need to call on other Senators to join them.

So today, members of Democracy for America, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, CREDO Action, and MoveOn are calling their Senators and demanding they sign Senator Bennet's Public Option letter too -- and join these Healthcare Heroes in fighting for real reform.

We won't quit until we win.

Charles Chamberlain, Political Director

Rosalinda Rayne
Rosalinda Rayne8 years ago

Superb article.
I imagine that, as well as saving many lives, America's health care reforms will also help many doctors & other health professionals to feel more true to their oaths. And will provide a boost to their employment prospects as well.
As a vistor to America, I have witnessed how often pharmacists are obliged to perform diagnostic & prescribing roles because so many people simply can't afford to see a doctor... I had to borrow money to see a doctor myself since my travel insurance would only refund money spent; not pay out as needed. The spread a of disease in economically disadvantaged communities must be phenomenal... As I've said before; America's lack of public health care makes it look like a 'Third World' country where human life counts for very little indeed... Just look at what happened after Katrina; even the response of US authorities to a local natural disaster made the country look like a 'banana republic'. A public health system will help enormously at these times too; as well as in times of epidemic.
Please, citizens of the USA; bring your country out of the dark ages & into the light of the 21st Century... There's people I love there!

Julia J.
Julia W8 years ago

right”. And the media will lap it up. And you know what? THEY”LL BE RIGHT. Because if you take out the public option, if you take out those things you ran on, those great ideas you envisioned to make us healthier with less stress, red tape, and cost, then your bill will not be nearly as effective as it could have been, and the Republicans will be right, though for the wrong reason. You watered down the stimulus bill for 3 Republican votes. You took out needed infrastructure funding and replaced it with for tax cuts for the wealthiest 5% of Americans. Why? I have news for you. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DON”T GIVE A DAMN HOW “BIPARTISAN” A BILL IS AS LONG AS IT WORKS. They’ll just reward whoever’s party is president. Most people think the president has most of the power anyway, so he gets most of the credit, good or bad. STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE REPOUBLICANS AND GIVE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT AND NEED. I promise we’ll reward you for it.

Julia J.
Julia W8 years ago

insane the process has been, which is what anyone with a brain would interpret the meaning to be when coupled with the fact that 72-83% of people support the public option! Democrats think that its only the left who want a public option, and they’re used to blowing off the left (although that’s a pretty stupid thing to do - how different might the last eight years have been if Clinton/Gore hadn’t alienated the left right into Nadar’s voting block?) but they’re wrong. The vast majority of Americans want health reform with a public option, and if the Democrats can’t give it to them, with the majorities it has, people will start to re-think giving majorities they can’t or don’t use.

So to any influential Democrats who might be reading this: STOP TRYING TO PLEASE THE REPUBLICANS. They have made it clear that they WILL NOT SUPPORT health care reform even if you strip the bill of everything except preexisting condition discrimination which the Republicans have been forced to agree with. They have admitted that this is not about policy, it is about TAKING OBAMA DOWN. The most votes you will get from the Republicans is 2-3, and the rest, when your plan, watered down and sluggish, goes into effect, and does few of the things you promised it would, because you bowed to Republican pressure to take those things out, those same Republicans will point to your health plan and say “Look, we told you it wouldn’t work. Obama’s socialis

Julia J.
Julia W8 years ago

The new rules will be a huge help to many people, but the doubtless the insurance companies will repay our government’s generosity by finding loopholes or previously unknown ways to screw us over. Maybe they’ll tell pregnant women that yes, your care is covered, but if you want us to cover prenatal care and delivery, you’ll need to pay an extra fee for your fetus. Of course, we can’t put your child on your plan yet, because it’s not born, so if you want us to treat your fetus, you’ll need to give us a $500 co-pay. Sounds insane, right? Is it any more insane than the fact that nine states currently consider “domestic violence victim” a preexisting condition? I’d rattle off some more hypotheticals, but really I have no desire to help the insurance companies to find new ways to make our lives a living hell.

The Democrats need to grow a spine, and now. With majorities as big as they have, and 83% percent of the country behind the public option, if they can’t make this work now, they never will. Yes, it is hard with the blue dog, conservative Democrats whimpering in terror that they might lose their seat because Rush Limbaugh will come after them if they do what their constituents overwhelmingly support. It’s also hard with the media constantly playing up drama and conflict, and somehow interpreting Obama’s falling “approval of how he is handling health care” number as people being against his health care re

Julia J.
Julia W8 years ago

is what they deserve, it will not happen. There are strong incentives for employers to continue offering private insurance to their workers. Did the post office put Fedex and UPS out of business? Did public libraries put bookstores out of business? Do public parks have the monopoly or outdoor entertainment? Have public golf courses hurt country clubs? Do public colleges hurt private colleges? Of course not. Why should healthcare be any different?

I just can’t understand how so many people who are happy with their Medicare (the rate of Medicare satisfaction is like 90% ) are out their screaming that they don’t want “government-run healthcare”. The government doesn’t RUN Medicare, it just pays doctors who accept Medicare to treat you; same as an insurance company, only Medicare doesn’t keep up to 35% out of every dollar you give them as profit, like the insurance companies do. Of course, a statistic came out recently that something like 14% of people don’t realize that Medicare is a government program, so that might explain a lot, but if so many people are happy with Medicare, and it is very cost-efficient (for all the screaming about how “Medicare is bankrupt”, it actually is the most efficient form of health insurance, because it has such low overhead and none of its money goes to profit).

It will be an absolute travesty if the bill ends up with an insurance mandate but no public option, essentially rewarding the insurance c

Julia J.
Julia W8 years ago

to leave their insurance company if they don’t want to. And God knows if you’ actually lucky enough to find an insurance company you like, you should be able to keep it! Look at the numbers. Depending on the source poll, 72-83% of Americans support a strong public option, even though 2/3 say they would stick with their own insurance company. That is because unless you are chronically ill, your insurance company probably isn’t a daily, stressful presence in your life. But they want a public option because they know that if they get sick and are dropped from their health plan, or if services are denied to them, that they will need another option (one that doesn’t involve selling their house and/or going into bankruptcy to pay medial bills).

I support insurance reform, such as elimination of “pre-existing condition” discrimination and other such bull, as well as a strong public option that people can join if they are dissatisfied with their insurance company, either because of cost or quality of care.

I would prefer that the public option just be improved Medicare, instead of this pseudo half-insurance co, half-Medicare plan they’ve got going right now, but right now I am fighting tooth and nail just to keep the public option at all. I know healthcare crisis. The only real way to keep costs low and practices sound and fair, is to have a competitive public option. And to those who think that the public option will run the companies out o