“I Am Working America” across America

(Guest post by Barbara Helmick – thanks everyone for their amazing pictures! -Doug)

Working families are under attack across the country and Working America members, with courage and pride, sent photos to show they are one with these families. Eager to show our individual numbers quickly add up to power, these photos are just a sampling of the great people who want to show the powers that be, that we are strong, we are ready to act, and we are beautiful.

Call Congress Now for Real Health Care Reform

We’ve written a lot about the reasons we need health care reform now.

There’s Michelle Morse, who in order to keep her insurance had to continue going to college full time while being treated for the cancer that ultimately killed her. The baby who got turned down for insurance because he was too fat, and the one who got turned down because she was too thin. The words of some of the 42,000 letters Working America and union members sent to Congress. Sylvia from Ohio. The mother who went blind to pay for treatment for her children. The amount of money the status quo is costing us.

Now there’s a bill coming up for a vote – probably on Saturday – that will do a lot to change all those things. What will it do?

Although some provisions of reform will require time to implement, here are key changes that will kick in immediately, providing direct and critical relief to millions of working families:

  • An immediate insurance program for high-risk uninsured people to buy into.
  • Ending “rescissions”—prohibiting insurers from nullifying coverage when patients file claims.
  • Ending the lifetime caps on how much care insurers will cover.
  • Allowing young people to stay on their parents’ policies until age 27.
  • Allowing workers who have lost coverage because they lost their job to extend COBRA coverage.
  • New incentive programs to increase the number of doctors.
  • Funding for community health centers.
  • Reducing the “donut hole” in Medicare prescription drug coverage—which right now doesn’t cover any drug costs between $2,700 and $4,050.
  • A new fund to help employers pay for coverage for early retirees.

And that’s just the beginning. Over time, H.R. 3962 will create an exchange in which millions can buy insurance—including the choice of a public health insurance option to compete with insurance companies. Middle-class families will have real choices and real protections from unfair insurance practices—meaning they and their doctors, not health insurance bureaucrats, will be in charge of their health care. And the House bill includes both real responsibility for employers and subsidies to help families afford insurance.

The bill also includes numerous provisions to make care more affordable and better in quality, including electronic medical records, tools to fight fraud and waste and incentives for better care. It will end denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions and end co-payments for preventative care.

We need that. So let’s do what it takes to get it.

Call your member of Congress and tell them to vote for HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Then come back and leave a comment telling us how the call went.

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More than art

by Tom Richmond III—Michigan

It was my second day at my second real job in my life. The day was brisk, a foreshadow of work to come. After a knock and a ring, the door was opened by a middle-aged woman. The rap went well, and I had the pleasure of an audience with her son front row. As she was flipping through my clipboard, the son handed me a folded note, saying “here, this is for you.” Inside I found a drawing of a cartoon character—hair all aflame with a teen angst look about him. I said “is this me?” All he could respond with was a smile, then he ran off. His mother noticed. She took my pen and signed up, saying “we need more people like you out here.”

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From scrap-booking to keeping jobs

by Chris Antonneau—Michigan

We were out canvassing in Royal Oak, MI the other night when I met this great older lady. I talked with her about the importance of correcting the problems with our health care system. She agreed we need change and need it soon. She signed up as a member and was also willing to help with her voluntary dues for the year. I thought to myself this lady is helping her state and country out greatly and maybe she will be willing to do more.

So then I talked to her about the need to pass “Hire MI First”—a plan to make sure Michigan workers build Michigan development. She wasn’t sure about writing a letter to her state representative at first. After I reminded her how important it is to let OUR politicians know how we feel, she said well I was just sitting around doing some scrap-booking so I should be able to write that letter for you.

About 20 minutes later, my coworker and I needed to wrap things up for the night, but before we did, we stopped by her house and sure enough. In her door was a great letter highlighting the importance of jobs in Michigan.

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Video: Organizing her neighbors

Ed Donaldson has an inspiring story about a member who was so motivated by our work that she came with him to canvass her whole neighborhood.

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Video: Meaningful work

Curtis Neff signs up a member who reminds him of the importance of our work.

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Video: Health care affects us all

Chris Antonneau speaks with a Marine family about health care. At first they’re not sure the issue affects them, but Chris lets them know about the struggle for children’s health care and it becomes clear — the need for quality affordable health care for all affects all of us.

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Video: Concerned about toxic toys

Chris Antonneau finds a new member who’s concerned about toxic toys, and offers him a solution that can help keep his child safe.

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Joining the fight for health care

by Jennifer Schlicht—Michigan

I knocked on a door in a city just outside Lansing, Michigan’s capitol. As soon as I told the man who answered that we were working for more affordable health care, he invited me immediately into the house. He signed up as a member as soon as I gave him the pen, and introduced me to his wife, sitting on the couch.

She said her health expenses were $3,000 a month, and it was a struggle to afford them with her husband’s manufacturing job. They were also interested in joining the AFL-CIO in Lansing for the Working Family Lobby Day. As I left, they gave me a grateful thanks for trying to make their—and everybody’s—situation better.

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Signing in the street

by Vanity Smith—Michigan

While our job is to sign people up by knocking on doors, I had a random encounter while between doors.

Jared and I were walking up the street when three guys in a car stopped us. The driver asked what we were out there doing, and I told him we were fighting for affordable health care. He said, “affordable health care?” and pulled over to the side of the road to offer his support. As he was signing up, I asked for the voluntary dues contribution of $5, and he said he would have to go to the bank but that he would bring it back. We left, and 20 minutes later he found Jared and gave him the dues.

This guy’s commitment made me feel that there is nothing more important than the fight for affordable health care.

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