Kyra Moore’s passion for National Improved Medicare for All (HR 676) stems from her personal experience of having worked many full-time jobs that failed to offer health insurance to employees, and jobs that paid too little too afford insurance. After a car accident in 2002, when she received a serious traumatic brain injury, her lack of health insurance resulted in her inability to receive much needed educational remediation. While on Medicaid and welfare after that car accident, she did quickly learn one thing: most clinics did not accept Medicaid, and those clinics that did accept it were so overbooked that they frequently sent her to the emergency room for routine care such as ear infections and strep throat. While employed as a teacher in 2000, Kyra had a nervous breakdown during a manic episode and was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. After one week in the hospital, her health insurance company discovered her employment had been terminated one week before, so her health insurance company dropped her coverage, which resulted in a $10,000 medical bill for a one-month hospitalization. Since her job as a full-time teacher paid only $14,000/year, and since she had no savings and no job, she could not pay the debt, and therefore earned a poor credit score which made it very difficult to find another position. After over a dozen mental hospitalizations and dozens of failed attempts of employment, in 2008, Kyra finally accepted her psychiatrists’ recommendations to apply for Social Security Disability. It was then that Kyra realized that Medicare was — by far — the best health insurance she had ever been lucky enough to have, and better health insurance than any of her friends had.
For years, Kyra lacked the confidence that Medicare for All could be passed, but in 2015, when Bernie Sanders ran for U.S. President, his platform that included Medicare for All ignited a belief that Medicare for All is a possibility, and she has been an activist in the state of North Carolina ever since. Her activism has included canvassing door to door, training canvassers, holding a rally, leading a postcard party, organizing sign making parties, speaking at events, and screening several movies including “Fix It”, “Big Pharma”, “Big Money Agenda” and “Now is the Time.” The best things about National Improved Medicare for All are that it is good for U.S. businesses, as employers will pay below 8% of payroll for their employees health insurance vs. the current 20% of payroll; it will boost the U.S. economy; it will lower costs for everyone because the healthy and unhealthy will be in the same pool; individuals would no longer have to pay for a Medicare supplement or Medicare drug plan; individuals would no longer have co-pays or deductibles; drug prices could be negotiated; and National Improved Medicare for All covers dentists, hearing aids, glasses, mental health, chiropractic, preventative care, and even long-term care in your home.
My passion for M4A started around 2010 when I attended a Healthcare presentation at our Memphis parish. We watched the PBS documentary ”Sick Around the World” and listened to a talk on the benefits of a single payer system. A fire was lit that has never gone out. As a Catholic and peace and social justice advocate, I found single payer to be right in line in with Gospel values of caring for the sick, the common good, and loving ones neighbor as thyself. It’s as simple as that. But I also selfishly became aware that no matter how much my husband and I lived by the rules- all of our working and saving could be wiped out by a major illness. My support for PNHP and M4A began.
As a mother, aunt, and friend, I see a whole generation of young people gambling on not purchasing health insurance and not scheduling checkups because they can barely make ends meet in this changing economy. “Go Fund Me” pleas for healthcare, insurance denials of coverage, families being destroyed by medical bills and even deaths due to costly medication rationing have become the norm in this country.
As Dr. Errington Thompson said- “ You can’t have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without your health.” I have seen much progress in the M4A movement, I am confident of its eventual success, and I will continue to work until it passes.
My interest in the issue of Improved Medicare for All stems from my work and training. I recently retired from VAYA Health MCO, based in Asheville. VAYA is an agency operating under a Medicaid Waiver, administering mental health, substance use, and intellectual/developmental disability services for Medicaid clients. I saw firsthand the importance of stable, quality health care services for patients with MH/SU/IDD diagnoses, and also witnessed the impact of the lack of those services.
My training as a sociologist also underlies my interest in Medicare expansion. A sociological perspective, with its examination of social stratification and inequality, is extremely useful in understanding the problems of the current American healthcare system. Applications are numerous, including data analysis of differential access to healthcare by employment status, race, and social class in America; as well as differential health outcomes by race and income. A sociological perspective is also helpful in understanding the role of economic interests in the operation of the current healthcare system. It is also useful in understanding how movements for social change come about, and the conditions under which they successfully reach their goals.
The US signed the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Article 25 states that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.”
We all have Health- once we are born, we all will die. Recognizing the universal sacredness of life, it is only fair and just that everyone in the richest country in the world receive the best care for their health wherever they are on the age and ability to work spectrums. 40 year a nurse, the last 15 working in people’s homes for a rural hospice, I had to deal with and work around the inequities built into the American health system.
Today I am receiving Medicare. I am so fortunate and want it for everyone. I am honored and happy to be part of a network of wise and caring people working to help change this current profit driven situation so that everyone, from womb to tomb can receive excellent health care regardless of their socio-economic status.
Dr. Marsha Fretwell
My passion in working with HealthCare for All of Western North Carolina has two sources. It emerges from my direct experience practicing medicine in our current health care system and from my spiritual and political analysis of the current partisan crisis that is crippling the function of our country and its government.
As outlined in my piece “The Last Happy Doctor,” the reality of my practice being 97% supported by Medicare allowed me to experience directly the joy of practicing under a single payer. I was able to focus on the needs of my patients without concern for their ability to pay.
Secondly, there are both scientific, religious and ethical underpinnings in our culture that support our caring for each other. I believe that bringing our nation together in support of providing health care for all could be an important step in healing the conflicts of today’s political climate.
Dr. Eric Halvorson
Dr. Halvorson is a plastic surgeon in private practice in Asheville. He came to Western North Carolina after a decade in academic practice at UNC Chapel Hill and Harvard. He has been a member of PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Program) for several years, but starting his own private practice and dealing with insurance companies has turned him into an activist in favor of major healthcare reform and improved Medicare for all.
Ellen Kaczmarek, MD
Having served in a medically underserved community right out of my residency , I saw the hardships of providing proper care to those who are unisured. Later, as a geriatrician who cared for patients who had the “golden ticket” of Medicare, I fully understood how important it is to fight for an Improved and Expanded Medicare for All ( HR676).
I have been a member of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) since the early 1990s and I am a founding member of HealthCare for All WNC.
I’ve got that south side Chicago-based DNA for “everybody in, nobody out,” coined by our family doctor, Dr. Quentin Young, one of the driving voices behind PNHP.
Having experienced “socialized” medicine up front in 1973, when injured while learning cabinet making as an apprentice in Devon, UK., I have no problems w/ gov”t run systems. The British National Health system saved my life–at no financial cost. I always appreciated that.
Americans may not be ready for Socialized medicine, but they are ready for M4A. Our time has come. Onto Washington DC: “Everybody In, Nobody Out!”
I was an elementary school teacher for 33 yrs. and when I retired, I wanted to continue to help people learn and improve their lives. My husband and I volunteered for many organizations up north, but when we moved to Asheville 6 years ago, I connected with Indivisible Asheville, and from there broke off into a small group to join a movement for advancing “Medicare For All”. This group has grown a great deal since it’s beginning, and I’m thrilled to be working with people who have the same goals and ideas about MFA. It fulfills a deep need in me to help improve lives and to inform and educate people about how wonderful a national healthcare system could be in our country. But first, citizens have to understand what is involved, before our grass roots movement can spread far and wide and have an impact on legislation at the local, state, and federal level. HEALTH CARE FOR ALL – WNC fulfills that need. We are always welcoming new members to our group.