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THE UNINSURED: 44 MILLION FORGOTTEN AMERICANS Transcript

Abilene, Texas

Long shot of Jody Beal walking…

Jody WalkingJODY BEAL:  (v/o) Once in a while I like to go walking by myself during the day, just get out by myself and walk, Give you time to think and reflect on your past, what you did, or what you didn’t do, or what you shoulda’ done…You can’t worry about the past; you have to worry about the future…

NARR: JODY BEAL IS 62. EVER SINCE HE WAS 16, HE’S BEEN WORKING IN THE OILFIELDS.

Jody and Sandy at swingset with grandkids.

Sandy (Natsot): “Oh that little Daniel loves to swing.”

NARR: WITH SANDY, HIS WIFE OF 37 YEARS, JODY HAS ENJOYED A SOLID MIDDLE CLASS WAY OF LIFE IN ABILENE, TEXAS. 

Sandy (Natsot): “Now be careful.  Hold on tight”

NARR: NOW PROUD GRANDPARENTS, HAVING RAISED A FAMILY IN THE HOUSE THEY BUILT, THE BEALS LOOK BACK ON THE GOOD TIMES…

Beal wedding photo

SANDY BEAL (v/o):  We got married in 1963. February 1963 We met at a skating rink, and uh-

SANDY: (o/c) He was at the roller rink and I was at the roller rink. He’s a good skater, too.

Photos: Beal wedding, Jody w/ golf buddy

SANDY (v/o): Life was just absolutely wonderful.  We had a good time every day. Jody belonged to two country clubs.  We just had so much fun.

SANDY (o/c): It was sad that it had to quit.

Jody and Sandy in Kitchen

Sandy (Natsot): Hi, Love. Well how’d it go?



Jody (Natsot): Okay

Sandy (Natsot):  I was worried out you.

Jody (Natsot):  Got what I needed

Sandy (Natsot): Well, tell me about it.

NARR: SINCE JODY SUFFERED A HEART ATTACK A YEAR AGO, THE BEALS LIVE IN A CONSTANT STATE OF CRISIS. JODY CAN’T WORK AND THE COUPLE HAVE NO HEALTH INSURANCE.

Jody (Natsot): “My heart rate was 111…”

STAND-UP (o/c): JODY BEAL IS PART OF A GROUP YOU’VE HEARD ABOUT -- AND MORE THAN LIKELY, KNOW PERSONALLY -- THE MEDICALLY UNINSURED.

TODAY, 44 MILLION OF US - OUT OF  275 MILLION AMERICANS - ARE WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE.  

WHO ARE THE UNINSURED?  THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY -- NEARLY 85 PERCENT-- ARE FROM WORKING FAMILIES… THEY RANGE FROM CHILDREN…TO YOUNG PEOPLE WORKING LOW-PAYING JOBS… TO MIDDLE AGED WORKERS BOUNCING FROM JOB TO JOB IN THE NEW ECONOMY LIKE JODY BEAL.

AND MANY, LIKE JODY, ARE CAUGHT IN A BIND – TOO SICK TO GET INSURANCE….AND YET NOT SICK ENOUGH, POOR ENOUGH, OR OLD ENOUGH TO QUALIFY FOR A GOVERNMENT HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM.

Jody walking out to oil well

JODY(o/c): I think I logged this well in 1974-75.

NARR: DURING HIS 46 YEARS IN THE OIL FIELDS, JODY HAD THE JOB OF FINDING OIL DEPOSITS THAT WERE PRIME FOR DRILLING.

JODY (v/o):  Hard work.

JODY (o/c): Liftin 250-350 pound tools. Riggin em up, riggin em down.

Oil wells; Photos of Jody in Indonesia

NARR: AFTER THE WEST TEXAS OIL BUSINESS WENT BUST IN THE LATE 1980’S, JODY HAD TO TRAVEL TO FIND WORK. BUT WHETHER IN AMERICA OR INDONESIA OR ECUADOR, THE COMPANY ALWAYS PROVIDED CARE…. AND JODY HAD THE FUTURE FIGURED OUT.

JODY  (v/o):  I was gonna work overseas till I was 65 years old.

JODY (o/c):And then come back to America, because I wouldn’t have to worry about insurance or anything like that, as long as I was overseas, because the companies you work for take care of you.

Jody walking around his neighborhood

NARR: JODY’S PLAN HIT A SNAG… WHEN HE WAS BETWEEN JOBS ON HIS RETURN FROM ECUADOR.

JODY (v/o):  I woke up in the morning and I was--my body was real swollen, my feet were swollen,  I'd gone from 175 pounds to 242.

JODY (o/c): And that's the way I got in to see the heart--the doctor.

RICK SMITH (o/c):  And what was the verdict?

JODY (o/c): The verdict was congestive heart failure.

Jody taking pills

NARR: AFTER UNDERGOING TWO HEART OPERATIONS, JODY NOW HAS CONTINUING NEED FOR MEDICATION AND TESTS.  AND NONE OF IT IS COVERED.

JODY (v/o): If I’d have made it til I was 65, I could have had some insurance..Medicare, Medicaid, whatever it is.

JODY (o/c): And I didn’t make it.

Sandy getting mail

NOT HAVING INSURANCE HAS SUDDENLY TURNED THE BEALS FROM BEING SOLID MIDDLE CLASS CITIZENS INTO BAD RISKS.

Sandy opening bills

Sandy Looking at BillsSANDY (v/o) The first thing they ask you is, is are you insured. And then if you're not, well, you generally need to make some kind of down payment and--so that's basically where our money went.

Sandy (Natsot): “Our records indicate that payment arrangements extended to you on the above account have not been honored.”

NARR: JODY AND SANDY ARE BROKE

SANDY: Oh goodness no, they sent the big one in.

RICK: What’s this mean?

SANDY: Well, they’ve turned it over to a collection agency as opposed to letting us work it out with them.

SANDY: That shoots any credit we had!

RICK (o/c): How much do your bills add up to, roughly?

SANDY: (o/c)  All the medical bills are about $125,000. That’s with the two procedures and the emergency room visits and all that.   The entire thing.

RICK:  What's your strategy from now? What's gotta happen?  What, what have you gotta do?

SANDY (o/c)  I have got to get a job that's going to pay enough, that I can pay off the, the hospital, the doctors, and any future medical needs he has.

Softball game; Various shots of Abilians at work

NARR: TEXAS HAS ONE OF THE NATION’S HIGHEST PROPORTIONS OF UNINSURED - NEARLY 25 PERCENT  …WHY ARE PEOPLE UNINSURED? NOT BECAUSE THEY’RE UNEMPLOYED. BOTH HERE AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY, MOST OF THE UNINSURED HAVE JOBS. BUT THEIR EMPLOYERS DON’T OFFER THEM HEALTH INSURANCE. THAT’S THE STORY FOR FOUR OUT OF FIVE UNINSURED WORKERS. ABILENE IS FAIRLY TYPICAL.

Workers at Harolds BBQ, Luskey Ryons Western Wear, etc…

NARR: HERE, AS IN THE REST OF THE COUNTRY – THE NEW SERVICE-BASED ECONOMY HAS MEANT MORE JOBS…AND MORE UNINSURED.

Business round table

NARR: THE CRACKS IN THE OLD EMPLOYER-BASED INSURANCE SYSTEM WERE EVIDENT IN A DISCUSSION WE HAD WITH SEVERAL ABILENE BUSINESS MANAGERS.



RICK (o/c):  Should we stick with a system in which our health insurance is provided by employers?  Does that make sense?

TROY LIMBAUGH (o/c):  We have got an employer-based insurance uh, system in the United States now.   And so if you don’t provide, all of a sudden you’re the…you’re the bad guy.

CHARLIE DRONGOOLE (o/c):  If you’re providing insurance …it becomes a cost factor where some businesses just say, “I can’t afford this anymore.”  I mean I just, I would love to but I’m…I don’t have the money

GRADY BARR (o/c):  My business is more competitive today, than it’s been in the 36 years that I’ve been in business for myself.

NARR: GRADY BARR IS THE MAYOR OF ABILENE...AND OWNER OF A ROOFING COMPANY.  LIKE MANY OTHER EMPLOYERS, BARR WANTS TO SHIFT THE COST OF HEALTH INSURANCE TO HIS WORKERS.

GRADY BARR (o/c): And when I was uh, young and starting and very tight budget, we took a personal responsibility for our health insurance.  And I think we’re…we’re gonna need to go back to that.  It’s not the employer’s responsibility. 

Business Roundtable; Rick and Betty Sims walking in clinic

BUT EMPLOYERS PICK THE PLANS AND SET THE WAGES. AND NEARLY ONE IN FOUR ABILENIANS FEEL THEY DON’T GET PAID ENOUGH TO AFFORD  INSURANCE. AT THE LOCAL FREE HEALTH CLINIC, DIRECTOR BETTY SIMS SEES THE FALLOUT.

BETTY SIMS (o/c) The salary bases here are not great, wages are not great here and as pressures happen on employers, that’s one of the first things to go is health insurance or benefits for their employees. And so we begin to see a lot more uninsured patients coming through our clinic than we have before..

Nurses with patients; Exteriors Hendrick Medical Center; Dr. Jackson w/ patient

Dr. Jackson (Natsot):  “Okay, are you ready to get that splint on?”

NARR: IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM OF THE HENDRICK MEDICAL CENTER, DR. JEFF JACKSON, SEES HOW THE UNINSURED DANGEROUSLY DELAY HEALTH CARE.

Dr. Jackson (Natsot): “Now we’re rockin’ and rollin’”

DR. JACKSON (o/c):  Usually they try to ignore warning symptoms that should otherwise not be ignored. They tend to pretend that everything is okay when it’s not.

Tom Phillips checking out of hospital

Nurse (Natsot): “Okay Tom, I need you to verify your address for me, please.”

NARR: 39 YEAR-OLD TOM PHILLIPS IS FAIRLY TYPICAL…HE MAKES TOO MUCH AS A STONECUTER TO QUALIFY FOR GOVERNMENT MEDICAID… BUT TOO LITTLE TO BUY INSURANCE.

Tom Phillips looking out window in hospital room; Dr. Jackson at work

Tom Phillips In BedNARR: THREE YEARS AGO, PHILLIPS HAD NO INSURANCE WHEN STRUCK BY A HEART ATTACK.  HE CAME TO HENDRICK FOR EMERGENCY OPEN HEART SURGERY.  AFTER THAT, HE DIDN’T SEE A PHYSICIAN FOR THREE YEARS …..  THREE YEARS WITHOUT THE FOLLOW-UP CARE AND MEDICATIONS THAT HIS CONDITION REQUIRED

Tom Phillips in hospital room.

NARR: THEN ONE DAY, NEGLECT CAUGHT UP TO HIM.

TOM PHILLIPS (o/c):  Well, I went to cash my check Friday and had some pains, and I thought I'd make it through the weekend, and when I went back to work Monday, I had some more pains.

NARR: PHILLIPS WOUND UP IN THE HENDRICK EMERGENCY ROOM UNDER DR. JACKSON’S CARE.

DR. JACKSON (o/c):  I told him I was going to call the cardiologist and have him evaluated and that I anticipated him being admitted to the hospital, and at that point in time he started to cry…

RICK: What was going through your head?

TOM PHILLIPS (o/c):  Well, my first thing is I wanna live, I don't wanna die, but then it--then the bills start rolling in, and you start just thinking about things you really shouldn't--at that time--but you do.  I mean, that's part a life--bills and money and all that kind a stuff.



JACKSON (o/c):  He told me that he had tried to get health insurance and had uh, - if it wouldn’t have cost him his entire paycheck to be insured, that he would certainly have health insurance.

RICK: (o/c): So when he mentions your heart, you were starting, worrying about money?

TOM PHILLIPS  (o/c):   Yes sir, because that’s pretty expensive work.

DV shots of Tom Philips going through catheterization

TOM PHILLIPS  (v/o):   Real expensive.

NARR: PHILLIPS NEEDED A STENT TO KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING PROPERLY AROUND HIS HEART. THE HOSPITAL BILL WAS $20,000

B-roll: Troy Limbaugh at business round table

NARR: TOM PHILLIPS’ EMPLOYER…TROY LIMBAUGH, SAYS THAT’S PHILLIPS’ WORRY.

TROY: (o/c):  he is provided health insurance.

RICK:  Not according to him.

TROY (o/c):  Okay when I…when I say he has it, he has every opportunity to take at a certain level uh, that health insurance.  He again, has…has taken a – made a choice himself not to… be under that coverage. 

Rick talking to Phillips and his mother in hospital room.

NARR: BUT ON HIS SALARY AND WITH THREE CHILDREN, PHILLIPS DIDN’T SEE ANY CHOICE…FOR A MAN WITH A HEART CONDITION. THE COMPANY HEALTH PLAN WAS WAY TOO COSTLY.

RICK: For a 42-hour week, what do you take home?

PHILLIPS: (o/c):  265.  And that’s not a lot when you’re feeding a growing boy, and lights, water, gas, gas for the automobile, and all that. House. It gets pretty penny-pinching sometimes.

NARR: MONEY WORRIES ALREADY HAD PHILLIPS THINKING ABOUT GETTING BACK TO HIS JOB.

RICK:  Did the doctor say you could go back to work at some point, or you're not going to be able to go back to work?

TOM PHILLIPS (o/c): In about ten days.  They, they don't want me to lift or pick nothing up, because of where they went through, through the vein. They said if I busted open in the vein just to immediately call 911, because I can bleed to death. So I’m no gonna be picking  nothing up, trust me.

RICK:  But then, after 10 days, what do you think's gonna   happen?

TOM PHILLIPS: (o/c):  I'll go back to work and see what happens.  I don't know what else to do.

NARR: TALK OF WORK MADE PHILLIPS’ MOTHER UNEASY.

MRS. PHILLIPS: (o/c)    I just hate to see him go back to work and maybe lose his life for--because there's no help out there for him…And not just for him.  For everybody that, that doesn't have insurance, and facing what he's faced, and I know there's plenty of 'em out there that's in the same shape he's in, and I, and I'd like to keep him around till we're old and gray.  But I'm just afraid, if he goes back to work--[pause]-- that we won't keep him.

Exterior of Beal home, Sandy Beal in car driving.

SANDY: (v/o)  Oh, at this stage in my life, I never anticipated anything like this; certainly not.

DESPERATE FOR WORK, SANDY BEAL GOES DOOR TO DOOR ...SELLING FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS.

Montage of sales calls

SANDY:  Well Abilene Funeral Home offers the very best deal right now that you can get.  The funeral itself is $880 and then you would add the amount of whatever casket you want.  Well, would this be of interest to y’all at this point in time?

SANDY: Okay.

MAN: It might be a good deal, but not for me. I wouldn’t be interested at all.

SANDY: All right.

Sandy With CoupleSANDY: (o/c).  Have you made arrangements for your funeral yet?

MAN: Yes, ma’am,

SANDY(o/c): Well I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner.

MAN: Well I wished you had

NARR: WORKING SOLELY ON COMMISSION, IT TAKES SANDY THREE MONTHS TO MAKE JUST OVER $1,000

UNSEEN WOMAN: I called early this morning and rescheduled and you know, and postponed it.

SANDY: Okay, well thanks anyway

UNSEEN WOMAN: I’m sorry. I’m sorry you -- 

SANDY That’s alright hon.  Bye bye

SANDY:          “Rats!”

Sandy in car driving

RICK (v/o):  Uh-huh. And how do you feel about her working?

JODY (v/o):  Well, that's--I'd, I'd rather she didn't, but it's… a necessity now but it doesn't make you feel too good.

RICK(v/o):  Because?

JODY (o/c):  Because you're--I'm, I'm supposed to be the breadwinner.

Jody and Sandy having coffee at home

UNABLE TO WORK AND SADDLED WITH A DEBT HE CAN SEE NO WAY TO PAY OFF, JODY NOW RARELY GOES OUT.

Jody taking his blood pressure at Wal Mart

TO SAVE MONEY, HE CHECKS HIS HEARTRATE AT A DRUGSTORE INSTEAD OF HAVING FREQUENT CHECKUPS WITH HIS DOCTOR.



Exterior of Beal home; Jody and Sandy at home on couch

SANDY (v/o):  Life is, is very difficult. It's just not fun when you can't go places and do things and you're constantly worried and concerned,

SANDY (o/c): When you feel that, that no matter what you do, it's possibly not going to be any better…it's just difficult to look to the future.

Sunset over oil wells, exterior of the Beal home

RICK (v/o):  What are the hardest moments for you?

SANDY (o/c):  Going to bed at night. He's got his oxygen going and, and so we don't have the, the closeness that we did.  I sleep on the couch.  Not being able to sleep with him and be close to him….is hard.

Exterior, Beal house, at night with porch light on.

Fade to black

East Los Angeles, California

Whittier Boulevard

NARR:  IT’S TWELVE HUNDRED MILES FROM WEST TEXAS TO EAST LOS ANGELES… AND THE PROBLEM OF THE UNINSURED IS MORE MASSIVE IN THE CITY THAN IN THE RURAL SOUTHWEST.

Scenes of working people on the street.

NARR: EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK WORKING FAMILIES ARE STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET…HOPING TO GET BY WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE.

RICK SMITH (o/c): So this is the kind of area where you grew up?

DIAZ (o/c): Yeah, same type of area. Same single-family homes.

NARR: RUDY DIAZ KNOWS EAST L-A FROM BOYHOOD AS THE SON OF A CEMENT WORKER  TODAY, HE IS BACK IN THE OLD NEIGHBORHOOD, DIRECTING ONE OF THE LARGEST FREE HEALTH CLINICS IN AMERICA.

Rudy Diaz and HS Walk Down a Street of East L_A

DIAZ (o/c): This, this area here has the most uninsured concentrated in one area than any other part of the United States.  You have three, almost a third of the population of Los Angeles County without any type of health insurance.  So what you have is probably about three point two to three point five million people uninsured.

Various workers around LA

DIAZ (v/o): The majority are working poor people.  People that would otherwise, if they were employed thirty years ago, have some type of medical coverage or dental coverage.  But right now they don’t have anything. 

RICK (o/c): You mean the, the changing economy - this modern economy - has made the situation worse?

DIAZ (o/c): It’s made it worse because there’s not a lot of employers that are providing health care nowadays. They’re saving the, that expense by putting it upon the employee to use the safety net system the county system,  the private providers like ours, the non-profits that are still in those communities where they work.

NARR: PRACTICALLY EVERY HOME IN THIS AREA HAS A STORY ABOUT SOMEONE’S PUTTING OFF HEALTH CARE… BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE UNINSURED AND CANNOT AFFORD TREATMENT…

RICK SMITH: So this has been your home for how long?

GUSTAVO’S DAUGHTER: Ten years.

CU Gustavo OutsideNARR: GUSTAVO RODRIGUEZ AND HIS FAMILY OF FIVE SHARED THEIR STORY WITH US…

Courtyard of the Rodriguez family.

RICK: And you’ve been in America how long?“

GUSTAVO RODRIGUEZ: Twenty years.

RICK: Twenty years? Working? Steadily?

RODRIGUEZ: Working, hard working.

NARR: GUSTAVO IS A WELDER.  HIS WIFE, ELVIA, IS A GARMENT FACTORY WORKER. 

NARR: DIAGNOSED WITH HEPATITIS “C”, GUSTAVO NEEDS A SPECIAL, EXPENSIVE MEDICATION. BUT HE CAN’T AFFORD TO BUY IT… AND IT’S NOT AVAILABLE AT FREE CLINICS.

Interior of Rodriguez home.

RODRIGUEZ (o/c - translated from Spanish): The treatment costs $200 a week and I need to have it for six months.

RICK (o/c): How do you pay for that?

RODRIGUEZ (o/c - translated from Spanish): I don’t know.  I am looking for a doctor or a plan that can help me.

RODRIGUEZ (o/c - translated from Spanish): I don’t think it’s fair.  I’ve worked here for twenty years and the whole time I have always paid my taxes.  I don’t think it’s fair that now they can’t help me for six months.  That’s all I need.  Six months and no more.

RICK:  Does your employer provide any health insurance at all?

RODRIGUEZ (o/c):  No, señor.

RICK:  Nothing?

RODRIGUEZ (o/c):  No.

RICK: Hard.

RODRIGUEZ (o/c - translated from Spanish):  Very hard, yes.

NARR:  BABY CITLALI HAS TWICE NEEDED HOSPITAL CARE FOR PNEUMONIA…THE BILLS WERE MORE THAN 14-HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Citlali with doctor at clinic

NARR: NOW, HER FREQUENT EAR INFECTIONS MAKE HER A REGULAR VISITOR TO RUDY DIAZ’S CLINIC.

NARR: FREE CLINICS  ARE THE CORE OF THE PATCHWORK SAFETY NET THAT THE UNINSURED DEPEND UPON ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY. 

DIAZ (o/c): There wouldn’t be doctors in this area, in medically underserved areas of California if it wasn’t for the Community Health Centers and the community clinics in California.



Mothers and children inside of Community Health Foundation.

RUDY (v/o) My vision is that everyone has equal access to health care. It’s our policy here to see any one that comes in the door for service, regardless of their ability to pay.

NARR:  RUDY DIAZ’S ORGANIZATION – THE COMMUNITY HEALTH FOUNDATION -- RUNS 21 CLINICS ALL OVER L.A. COUNTY.

Doctor seeing little boy (nat sot): “open your mouth”

Nurse giving boy a shot (nat sot): “Okay, un estique”

THEY PROVIDE BASIC MEDICAL, DENTAL, AND EYE CARE TO THE POOR.

Male nurse (nat sot): Abre la boquita

DIAZ (o/c):  we see over 170,000 uninsured people in our – within our health care system.

RICK:  Every year?

DIAZ (o/c): Every year. 

Rudy walking through clinic

NARR: WITH THE NUMBER OF UNINSURED GROWING, RUDY’S CLINICS ARE SWAMPED AND RUNNING FURTHER AND FURTHER IN THE RED.

RUDY (v/o):  Our budget last year was eighteen million dollars. To finish out the year we had to cut two million dollars from the budget because the demand for services by the uninsured was too great… The dollars have shrank or stayed the same and the number of uninsured has grown.

RICK:  So it’s really a bind.

DIAZ (o/c): Oh, it’s a serious bind. 

U.S. Capitol at night; congressional floor during 1994 State of the Union Address

NARR:  IT’S A BIND THAT POLITICIANS KNOW WELL.

President Bill Clinton speaking at 1994 State of the Union Address

CLINTON (o/c): If you send me legislation that does not guarantee every American private health insurance that can never be taken away, you will force me to take this pen, veto the legislation and we’ll come right back here and start all over again.

Members of Congress on house floor applauding

NARR: BUT SINCE THE CLINTON HEALTH PACKAGE WENT DOWN IN FLAMES SIX YEARS AGO, SWEEPING HEALTH REFORMS ARE VIEWED AS POLITICAL SUICIDE. SO ATTEMPTS TO COVER AMERICA’S UNINSURED HAVE BEEN CAUTIOUS AND PIECEMEAL. ONE SUCH ATTEMPT TARGETS THAT MOST NON-CONTROVERSIAL GROUP – CHILDREN.  THERE ARE TEN MILLION UNINSURED CHILDREN IN AMERICA TODAY….AND THE NUMBER IS GROWING.

C-SPAN footage of Clinton at Children’s Hospital announcing the CHIP program

Clinton with Kids SigningCLINTON (o/c):  This is an extraordinary partnership, to make sure each and every child gets the health care he or she needs to get a fair and healthy shot at life.  But it is only the first step.

Motion control of CHIP bill; Clinton signing CHIP bill

NARR: THE CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM, OR CHIP, WAS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR THREE MILLION UNINSURED CHILDREN. IN 1997, CONGRESS VOTED $24 BILLION TO PAY FOR CHIP FOR FIVE YEARS.

C-SPAN footage of Clinton with kids on podium/audience clapping after CHIP announcement

NARR; BUT LONG DELAYS IN GETTING THAT MONEY TO NEEDY CHILDREN IN SOME STATES HAS BEEN AN EMBARRASSMENT.

Motion control of Healthy Families PR materials

NARR: CALIFORNIA, WHICH CALLS ITS CHIP PROGRAM…HEALTHY FAMILIES, RAN A GLITZY AD CAMPAIGN.

Natsot from TV ad: “Some people don’t think kids need preventive care.”

NARR:  BUT THE ADS WERE TOO HIGH-TONED AND UPPER-MIDDLE-CLASS TO APPEAL TO WORKING PEOPLE.

Healthy Families television commercial.

DIAZ (v/o): They used a major media program where a lot of television was used.

Natsot from TV ad: “Introducing California’s new low cost and no cost medical, dental…”

DIAZ (v/o): It was developed in Hollywood and it wasn’t targeted at the actual market where the working poor were at.

Kindergarten class in East LA L-A County.

Teacher (nat sot): “and when he came out, what was he?”

NARR: SO AFTER TWO YEARS, “HEALTHY FAMILIES” HAD SIGNED UP ONLY ONE OUT OF EVERY FOUR UNINSURED CHILDREN IN L-A COUNTY…. NATIONWIDE, CHIP IS STILL MISSING ONE MILLION OF THE CHILDREN THAT IT TARGETED.

Hispanic workers in candy factory

NARR: HERE IN CALIFORNIA, SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT YEARS OF ANTI-IMMIGRANT RHETORIC COMING FROM THE STATE CAPITOL HAVE MADE THE LATINO POPULATION SUSPICIOUS OF GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS

The Rodriguez family at home



DIAZ (v/o): The beginning implementation was slow because here in California we had a long history of attacks on people because they were Hispanic.  And a lot of the people were avoiding programs of health insurance or access to health care because of the,

DIAZ (o/c): of the uh, perception that there was a government in California had a anti-immigrant uh, type of feeling towards it. 

Parents and Outreach Workers at an enrollment event for Healthy Families

NARR: EVENTUALLY, PUBLIC OFFICIALS DECIDED TO WORK THROUGH LATINO COMMUNITY NETWORKS. NOW THEY RUN EVENTS LIKE THIS  - A HEALTHY FAMILIES FAIR AT A LOCAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

BEATRIZ DE LA ROCHA (o/c):  And we are trying to do this pretty often.  We’re finding that parents feel comfortable coming to schools and this is the place to reach them.

NARR: BEATRIZ DE LA ROCHA COORDINATES THE HEALTHY FAMILIES PROGRAM FOR THE L.A. SCHOOL DISTRICT. THE GRASS ROOTS APPROACH, SHE SAYS, MAKES THE CRUCIAL CONNECTIONS. 

Scenes of outreach/enrollment activities Woman in Spanish

DE LA ROCHA (v/o): I think what’s been most effective is parents telling other

parents And parents are the best people, especially parents who have been enrolled

themselves in Healthy Families. But for the most part it takes a lot of personal

contact, a lot of phone calling.  It takes at least 7 contacts before a family actually comes

to enroll.

Healthy Families enrollment volunteer (nat sot): “Based on your family income and the number of…”

NARR: THE NEW STRATEGY ALSO CUTS RED TAPE AND BUREAUCRACY.

DE LA ROCHA (o/c): Well Healthy Families started as a really long application, I think it was twenty-something pages at one time --  that’s now down to four pages which has made a big difference.

Maria Gumaer grocery shopping

NARR: NOW, MORE USER-FRIENDLY, HEALTHY FAMILIES IS REACHING THE PEOPLE WHO NEED IT – LIKE MARIA GUMAER. MARIA WAS ONE OF MILLIONS WHO WERE UNAWARE THAT THEIR CHILDREN WERE ELIGIBLE.

MARIA (o/c):  I thought Healthy Families was something to do with welfare and I just thought there’s just no way.  I don’t think I would ever qualify.  You practically have to be poor in order to qualify for anything to do with the government.

Maria ShoppingNARR: MARIA GUMAER SEES HERSELF AS PART OF THE AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS.  WITH A FULL-TIME ACCOUNTING JOB FOR A SMALL BUSINESS, SHE HAS YEARLY EARNINGS WELL ABOVE POVERTY…BUT STILL TOO LOW FOR HER TO AFFORD HER EMPLOYER’S 400 DOLLAR A MONTH HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN.

MARIA (o/c): I make twenty-six thousand dollars a year.  And if I had to pay the four hundred dollars for the insurance, that wouldn’t leave me enough money to pay for my rent, my car, my car insurance and child care.

Gumaer family leaving their house; rollerblading on the boardwalk

NARR: HEALTH CARE BECAME A NIGHTMARE FOR MARIA. HER DAUGHTER DENICA’S MEDICAL MISADVENTURES WERE DRIVING HER FAMILY INTO DEBT.

DENICA (o/c)  I’ve had a lot of bad medical history.  I’ve broken my arm a few times.  I’ve gotten stitches in my knee and in my head.  Um, I’ve just been really bad with my body.

Denica rollerblading

NARR: THE MOST PERSISTENT PROBLEM WAS DENICA’S TROUBLE BREATHING.

DENICA (o/c): I couldn’t do a lot of sports in school.  Sometimes I’d have to stop doing sports and use a fast acting inhaler because I wouldn’t be able to keep up. 

MARIA (o/c): She had to struggle all these years not being able to breathe correctly, people, classmates, making fun of her

DENICA (o/c):  I sat behind a really mean girl and I couldn’t - I was in the middle of an asthma attack so I was snorting and she was like stop breathing like a pig and it really hurt. 

Maria and her daughters at the beach

NARR:  MARIA KNEW HER DAUGHTER HAD ASTHMA BUT SHE WAS LIVING FROM PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK.

MARIA (o/c): I had to think twice whether should I use this twenty dollars to take you to the doctor or this twenty dollars to use it to go buy milk.  And it was very, that was a very difficult situation right there and then.

Gumaer family at home playing Jenga

NARR: SO DENICA WENT FOR YEARS WITHOUT THE PROPER TREATMENT.

MARIA (o/c): I have never, ever follow-up with the doctor because every time she went in she was given a different medication between three and four types of medications, ten dollars apiece...Here we go again.  Forty dollars down the drain.  So once I saw her, she was doing better, her breathing was better, I just took her off the medication and waited till she got sick again.

Denica and Maria at Gallitin Clinic for Asthma & Allergy Tests

NARR: FINALLY,  MARIA CALLED HEALTHY FAMILIES…AND GOT DENICA ON TRACK TO SEE A SPECIALIST WHO GAVE HER THE TESTS MARIA HAD BEEN UNABLE TO AFFORD.



MARIA (o/c): Her doctor, he was in shock.  He called me into his office and he could not believe how bad this child was.

Denica with nurse getting asthma shots, tests

MARIA (v/o): He put her on this really strong steroids to open up her lungs.

NARR: THE LOW COST CO-PAY OF $5 PER VISIT MEANS DENICA GETS REGULAR CARE NOW…AND THE CHANGE IN HER LIFE HAS BEEN ENORMOUS.

Denica at swim practice

GUMAER (v/o): she’s able to run, she’s able to do things the normal way.  She has never been better in her life.

NARR:  THE LACK OF UNIVERSAL PRIMARY CARE FOR COMMON AILMENTS LIKE ASTHMA MAY SOME DAY BE CONSIDERED AN OUTRAGE IN AMERICA. BUT TODAY SUCH ILLNESSES ARE CREATING UNNECESSARY SUFFERING FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.

MARIA (o/c): It hurt me so much to know that here my poor child had to struggle for six years not being able to breathe correctly.  I mean, I was sick one time and I couldn’t breathe and I thought my poor child had to go through this for six years.  And now me having Healthy Families, I feel so blessed.  I mean I wouldn’t want to switch that for anything in this world because

Denica in pool

MARIA (v/o): she’s gotten all the attention she needs.

Swim Instructor (nat sot): “Denica!  Hup!”

Fade to Black

Nashville, Tennessee

Medivac helicopter landing

NARR: THERE ARE PLACES WHERE THE UNINSURED GET TREATED LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

Vanderbilt emergency room

NARR:IN TRAUMA UNITS…

Morris in ER overseeing activity

NARR: DR. JOHN MORRIS IS DIRECTOR OF THE TRAUMA CENTER AT VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE.

MORRIS (o/c): I take care of uh, badly injured patients.  Patients from car wrecks, patients who have been shot, patients who have had major falls.

Patients, doctors, nurses in ER; doctors monitoring MRI session

NARR: TRAUMA IS A PLACE WHERE HEALTH CARE IN AMERICA IS TRULY DEMOCRATIC…EVERYONE GETS ACCESS TO THE FINEST, HIGH TECH TREATMENT…INCLUDING THE UNINSURED. 

MORRIS (v/o): we all have a very strong feeling of obligation that there can be no barriers to access for the critically injured patient. 

MORRIS (o/c): You simply cannot check insurance cards in the parking lot before people come in the door.  You’ve got to treat them and ask questions later.

Danny Ragsdale at wife Laura’s bedside

Danny (nat sot):  “Can you hear me? Can you hear me?  Move your eyes if you can hear me.”

Laura And Danny RagsdaleNARR: LAURA RAGSDALE WAS BROUGHT HERE AFTER A HEAD-ON COLLISION ON A COUNTRY ROAD NEARLY ENDED HER LIFE.

Danny (nat sot):  “Can you see me baby?”

NARR: SHE SUFFERED A SEVERE HEAD CONCUSSION, BROKE SIX RIBS AND LOST HER SPLEEN.

Danny (nat sot):  “You’re going to be okay. You’re going to be all right, baby.”

NARR: HER HUSBAND DANNY KEEPS VIGIL BY HER BEDSIDE.

NARR: IN MOST STATES, HIS WIFE WOULD BE UNINSURED AND A MOUNTAIN OF HOSPITAL BILLS WOULD ADD TO THEIR AGONY.  BUT IN TENNESSEE SHE’S COVERED BY AN INNOVATIVE STATE PROGRAM –CALLED TENNCARE - SET UP TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE COVERAGE FOR THE WORKING POOR.   

RAGSDALE (o/c):  If it wasn’t for TennCare uh, I don’t know what we’d do.  I mean uh, there’s no other way about it.  I mean we’d, if they wouldn’t treat us uh..they’d send us a bill that we never could pay.  Uh, TennCare is wonderful as far as taking care – paying your bills, they’re wonderful. 

Exterior St. Teresa’s church; people singing at choir practice

NARR   GIVE TENNESSEE CREDIT – IT  IS ONE OF THE FEW STATES THAT HAVE TRIED TO DO SOMETHING TO HELP THE UNINSURED. OVER ITS SIX YEARS, TENNCARE  HAS EXTENDED COVERAGE BEYOND THE MEDICAID ROLLS TO  A HALF MILLION PEOPLE WHO WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE FALLEN THROUGH THE CRACKS.

NARR:  ANGELA DAVIS IS THE LEGAL GURDIAN OF JOSHUA MITCHELL WHO WAS BORN WITH SICKLE CELL ANEMIA. JOSHUA IS COVERED BY TENNCARE.

Joshua Mitchell singing at choir practice



ANGELA DAVIS (v/o): Joshua’s very important to me.  When I took him, I took him to love him, to take care of him. 

ANGELA (o/c): I didn’t know that he was sick but after we found out what it was that made things even greater. 

ANGELA (v/o): So, he’s a jewel to us.

NARR: SICKLE CELL IS A DISEASE OF THE BLOOD THAT CAUSES PAINFUL ATTACKS IN THE JOINTS AND ORGANS.  AVERAGE LIFE EXPECTANCY IS 45 YEARS.

Choral group singing “Midnight Hour”

ANGELA (v/o): I don’t like to see him go through what he go through; sometime I wish it was me instead of him but there’s nothing we can do.  Just take one day at a time. 

ANGELA (o/c): We take God first, we pray and ask him to heal our baby.

NARR: ANGELA DOES MORE THAN PRAY, 

Angela taking orders, in the kitchen at Shoney’s restaurant

SHE ALSO WORKS SIX, SOMETIMES SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

Angela (nat sot): “Would you like cream with your coffee?  Okay, you sir?”

ANGELA (v/o): I love working.  That’s, that’s just been something I did all my life.  Fifteen years old, forty-three -- I’ve been working all my life.

NARR: ON A GOOD WEEK ANGELA WILL BRING HOME AROUND THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS.   SOME WEEKS SHE MAKES LESS THAN HALF THAT.

ANGELA (v/o): The sickness that my Joshua has, he needs Tenn Care Tenn Care provided very good for my son. 

Joshua getting check up with Dr. Turner

Dr. Turner (nat sot): “Okay, you know the routine.”

NARR: JOSHUA’S VISITS TO A SICKLE CELL SPECIALIST AND HIS PERIODIC HOSPITALIZATIONS ARE COVERED BY TENNCARE.  

NARR: BUT FOR ONE BRIEF PERIOD, JOSHUA WAS MISTAKENLY DROPPED FROM THE TENNCARE ROLES. IN JUST ONE MONTH JOSHUA’S REPEATED VISITS TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM, RACKED UP HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS IN BILLS FOR ANGELA.

RICK:  So if you compare what it’s like to be on Tenn Care and what it’s like to be off Tenn Care what is, make that comparison.

DAVIS (o/c):   It’s, it’s rough.  If you don’t have it, you’re out of luck.

TennCare patients getting recertified for TennCare

TennCare rep (nat sot): “Are you asking for TennCare?  You are. Is this information…”

NARR:  THE VALUE OF TENNCARE IS ETCHED ON THE FACES OF THOSE WHO COME TO RENEW THEIR COVERAGE....PEOPLE ON MEDICAID... CHILDREN... WORKING PEOPLE WHOSE JOBS DO NOT OFFER INSURANCE...AND THOSE WHO ARE TOO SICK TO BE ACCEPTED BY PRIVATE INSURERS...

ED KINCAID (v/o): I had a heart attack and I was between coverages. And once you have a heart attack no one is going to cover you. 

KINCAID (o/c)   Not only is it an excellent program for the indigent, for people who can’t afford it, but for people like myself who simply can’t get it anywhere else, there’s no other answer.

More scenes of TennCare patients getting recertified for TennCare

NARR: TO PEOPLE LIKE THESE, TENNCARE HAS BEEN A PRICELESS SAFETY NET.   ITS ADVOCATES SEE IT AS TENNESSEE’S COURAGEOUS EXPERIMENT IN EXPANDING HEALTH CARE COVERAGE WHILE SAVING DOLLARS BY USING MANAGED CARE.

Tax protesters, horns honking

NARR: BUT THERE’S NO GAIN WITHOUT PAIN. THERE IS AN INCREASINGLY SHARP DEBATE OVER TENNCARE’S FUTURE. …. IT’S ABOUT MONEY.  PUBLIC MONEY.   TAX MONEY.

yes Taxes SignNARR: TENNCARE COSTS 4-POINT-3 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR – TWO-THIRDS FEDERAL MONEY AND ONE-THIRD STATE TAXES. …AND THAT ONE-THIRD MEANS TAKING MONEY FROM SOME TENNESSEEANS TO PAY FOR THE HEALTH CARE OF OTHER TENNESSEEANS.

Exterior - Tennessee state house; legislators on floor of Tennessee State House

NARR: AND THAT HAS STATE LEGISLATORS IN AN UPROAR.

Floor debate (nat sot): “The revenue bill that is coming to us from the house is an insult….”

Floor debate (nat sot):”the are all great programs, they are moving Tennseess forward but in order to move Tennessee forward you are going to have to get into somebody’s pocket.”

Motion control of Tennessean headlines re: problems with TennCare

NARR: WHILE POLITICIANS ARGUE, TENNESSEE’S BIG SAFETY NET HOSPITALS ARE SCREAMING THAT FOR SIX YEARS THEY’VE BEEN LOSING BIG MONEY ON TENNCARE PATIENTS VANDERBILT HOSPITAL CHIEF HARRY JACOBSON.



JACOBSON (o/c): I’ve told the Governor, I’ve told everybody who would listen – last year was the last year that Vanderbilt can play in Tenn Care the way we have been and suffer a twenty million-dollar loss.  We need a fix and we need to fix this year.

Motion Control of PWC and Urban Institute studies

NARR: TWO INDEPENDENT STUDIES CONFIRMED THE HOSPITALS’ CLAIM. THEY SAID TENNCARE IS IN DANGER OF BEING UNDERFUNDED BY 200 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR.

Nashville skyline

SO HAVING DARED TO PIONEER HEALTH CARE FOR SOME OF THE UNINSURED, TENNESSEE IS NOW TRAPPED BETWEEN ITS HIGH AMBITIONS AND A TAX RATE SO LOW IT RANKS 47TH OUT OF 50 STATES.

STANDUP: IN TENNESSEE’S NOW RANCOROUS ARGUMENT OVER COST VERSUS CARE, THERE ARE LESSONS FOR THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. DON’T EMBARK ON A BIG NEW HEALTH CARE PROGRAM WITHOUT FUNDING IT FULLY. DON’T OVERESTIMATE HOW MUCH YOU CAN SAVE BY USING MANAGED CARE.

      AND FINALLY, BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT PUSHING THE COST OF PROVIDING CARE ON YOUR BIG SAFETY NET HOSPITALS. BECAUSE IF THAT PUSHES THEM TOO DEEP IN THE RED, THEY’LL START CUTTING SERVICES FOR EVERYONE…NOT JUST THE UNINSURED.

Interior of Marsha Blackburn’s house

NARR: IN TENNESSEE, BIG HOSPITALS ARE PLEADING WITH LEGISLATORS LIKE STATE SENATOR MARSHA BLACKBURN TO SAVE THEM.

BLACKBURN (o/c): We have hospitals that are getting fifteen cents, ten cents, twelve cents on the dollar, and it is very difficult to make ends meet when you’re a safety net hospital and you’re receiving that kind of reimbursement from TennCare.

RICK (o/c): So would you favor or oppose a tax increase to help solve the problem for TennCare?

BLACKBURN (o/c):  I am opposed to a tax increase.  I am absolutely, uh, opposed to a tax increase because throwing money after a problem does not solve the problem.

NARR: HOSPITAL CHIEFS --  LIKE DR. HARRY JACOBSON OF VANDERBILT --  FIND THEMSELVES BAFFLED BY THIS LOGIC.

JACOBSON (o/c): They can’t pass a program and not pay enough for it and then expect that everybody else is gonna take the financial risk for making the program work.  So don’t pass something that you’re not willing to fund.

RICK: There’s something I, I don’t quite get here. I mean if, if people are not getting the money they need to provide the services, uh, help me understand why isn’t more money the answer?

BLACKBURN (o/c): Well, I think we all know that more money doesn’t solve every problem that comes along.  More money does not increase test scores for education.  More money does not provide better health care.

BLACKBURN (o/c): Are the people of Tennessee willing to support socialized medicine?  No, they’re not.

Motion Control headlines from Tennessean re: attitudes towards taxes and TennCare; Activity in Vanderbilt ER

NARR: ACTUALLY, POLLS SHOW THAT TENNESSEANS LIKE TENNCARE, BUT NOT ITS PRICETAG...THIS PUBLIC AMBIVALENCE FRUSTRATES DOCTORS WHO MUST COME FACE TO FACE WITH PATIENTS EVERY DAY.

MORRIS (o/c):  We need a system that understands what the product costs and makes a determination of whether it’s worthwhile.  Makes the decision we want it, therefore we’ll pay for it.  Or makes the decision that we don’t want it, we won’t pay for it but then doesn’t whine about not having it.

Exterior, Tennessee State House

NARR: WAITING FOR THIS DECISION, TENNCARE HAS BEEN CRUMBLING.

Michael Gorski at doctor’s appointment

NARR: SO MANY DOCTORS HAVE CLOSED THEIR DOORS TO TENNCARE BECAUSE OF ITS LOW REIMBURSEMENTS, THAT FAMILIES LIKE THIS ONE, HAVE TO DRIVE 90 MILES TO SEE A SPECIALIST WILLING TO ACCEPT A TENNCARE PATIENT.

Eric Bright being released from hospital

NARR: AND DURING RECOVERY WHEN PROPER CARE MEANS GETTING BETTER INSTEAD OF JUST GETTING BY WITH A LINGERING DISABILITY, MANY PATIENTS ARE SENT HOME TO GET BY AS BEST THEY CAN.

Nurse (nat sot): “Just don’t put any weight on that leg at all.”

Danny Ragsdale at his wife’s bedside

CU Laura RagsdaleNARR: PATIENTS LIKE LAURA RAGSDALE ARE AFFECTED BY TENNCARE’S BUDGET SQUEEZE…ESPECIALLY WHEN THE TRAUMA UNIT IS READY TO MOVE THEM FROM EMERGENCY CARE TO LONG-TERM REHABILITATION.

Morris in Vanderbilt ER

MORRIS (v/o): my goal is, is to return a patient to a productive lifestyle.

MORRIS (o/c): and if we don’t return people to productive lifestyles, all we’re doing is creating a backlog for future generations of supporting people who are unable to support themselves - and that’s a huge cost.”



Dr. Morris putting on scrubs; More activity in Vanderbilt ER

NARR: MORRIS FAULTS TENNCARE FOR PINCHING PENNIES IN THE SHORT RUN AND COSTING THE STATE MORE OVER THE LONG RUN.

MORRIS (v/o): TennCare doesn’t pay enough to the rehabilitation hospitals for us to be able to get patients into rehabilitation. 

MORRIS (o/c): Rehabilitation hospitals will say, “No, we won’t take a TennCare patient.  That reimbursement isn’t sufficient to cover our costs. We are only going to take people with commercial insurance.”

Higginbotham in ER with nursing students

NARR: THE JOB OF SETTING UP REHAB FALLS TO TRAUMA CASE MANAGER MILTON HIGGINBOTHAM. BUT WHEN REHAB HOSPITALS REFUSE TO TAKE PATIENTS, HE EITHER HAS TO KEEP THEM AT VANDERBILT….OR SEND THEM HOME TO FEND FOR THEMSELVES.

MILTON HIGGINBOTHAM (o/c): Tenncare does not give us the appropriate resources.  We have got to send families with basically minimal to nothing.  We’re saying, ‘Okay, you gotta take your wife home. You know, “she’s got all these devastating injuries. ‘You’re gonna have to bathe her. You’re gonna have to give her hygiene. You’re gonna have to change this dressing because Tenncare won’t let me place her into a facility that we would like to, that we think she needs.

Higginbotham walking through ER

NARR: FOR EACH EXTRA DAY ON THE TRAUMA WARD, A TENNCARE PATIENT COSTS VANDERBILT  15 HUNDRED DOLLARS IN UNPAID CHARGES….AND YET, HIGGINBOTHAM SAW NO ALTERNATIVE TO KEEPING LAURA RAGSDALE ON HIS WARD.

HIGGINBOTHAM (o/c): This is ridiculous.  We’ve spent a quarter of a million dollars on this lady – this hospital has – to get her back , to literally pull her from death’s door. And then you know, right here when we’ve got her at the point, you know she needs some good rehabilitation to get her back, they want to send her to a nursing home.  We flatly refused.

Danny Ragsdale in hospital hallway

NARR:  STUCK IN TENNCARE LIMBO, THE RAGSDALES SPENT SIX WEEKS IN THE TRAUMA CENTER UNTIL HIGGINBOTHAM FINALLY CONVINCED TENNCARE TO APPROVE HER FOR REHAB.

Laura Ragsdale in bed

LAURA RAGSDALE (v/o): I know I don’t look very good

LAURA RAGSDALE (o/c): but if you see me again, I’ll look better than this, hopefully….

NARR: LAURA RAGSDALE WAS ONE OF THE LUCKY WINNERS…MANY TENNCARE PATIENTS LOSE THEIR BID FOR REHAB.

John Morris and other staff in Vanderbilt trauma center.

NARR: THE OTHER LOSERS ARE SAFETY NET HOSPITALS WHO GET STUCK WITH THE BILL FOR LAURA RAGSDALE AND MANY OTHERS.

NARR: JOHN MORRIS WORRIES THAT HIS TRAUMA UNIT CANNOT AFFORD TO GO ON THIS WAY. AND IF FINANCIAL LOSSES FORCE IT TO SHUT DOWN OR CUT BACK, ALL PATIENTS WILL FEEL THE IMPACT.

MORRIS (o/c): If the trauma center makes a decision to turn off trauma care, it’s not making the decision to turn off trauma care for just the TennCare patient.

Patients in trauma ward

MORRIS (v/o): It’s making the decision to turn off trauma care for the entire population of the community. And if it’s off for everybody, then everybody’s hurt.

(cover with reprise of uninsured video scenes)

NARR: SO IN FACT, ON HEALTH CARE, WE’RE ALL ONE FAMILY. EVERYONE HAS A STAKE IN GOOD CARE FOR THE UNINSURED HEART PATIENT…CRASH VICTIM…OR CHILD WITH ASTHMA. SOMEONE HAS TO PAY FOR HEALTH CARE.  EMPLOYERS ARE BACKING OFF…LOW-WAGE WORKERS CAN’T AFFORD IT. HOSPITALS ARE OVERBURDENED.

 WILL THE PUBLIC DO IT AND MAKE GOOD HEALTHCARE AN AMERICAN BIRTHRIGHT? THAT’S  AN ISSUE FOR THE VOTERS.…

HS -STANDUP (o/c):

 BUT POLITICS ASIDE, LET’S GO BACK TO OUR ORIGINAL QUESTION – JUST HOW GOOD IS YOUR HEALTH CARE IN THE CRUNCH? …SOMETIMES, EXCELLENT… TOO OFTEN, NOT AS GOOD AS IT SHOULD BE.

IF YOU’RE CHRONICALLY ILL, IT’S A BATTLE TO HANG ONTO BENEFITS… IF YOU’RE CAUGHT BY A HEALTH CRISIS BETWEEN JOBS, IT’S A FINANCIAL CATASTROPHE. IF YOU CAN’T GET ACCESS TO TOP DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS, YOU’RE IN TROUBLE WITH THE QUALITY GAP…AND OVER EVERYONE’S HEAD HANGS THE DANGER OF A FATAL MEDICAL ERROR.

 RIGHT NOW, YOU KNOW MORE ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL SAFETY WHEN YOU STEP ONTO AN AIRLINER …THAN WHEN YOU PUT YOUR LIFE IN THE HANDS OF YOUR DOCTOR. AND YOU’LL REMAIN IN THE DARK UNTIL WE AS A PEOPLE, DEMAND PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY FOR HEALTH CARE.

IN THE MEANTIME, THERE’S ONE SURE LESSON…THE QUALITY OF YOUR HEALTH CARE DEPENDS AS MUCH ON YOU AS ON YOUR DOCTOR …ON YOUR BEING INFORMED…ON YOUR ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS… ON YOUR BEING YOUR OWN BEST ADVOCATE..YOUR LIFE MAY HANG IN THE BALANCE.

I’M HEDRICK SMITH, THANKS FOR BEING WITH US.

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