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Heckled Woman in Wheelchair has a Message: An Exclusive Interview

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Ocean Grove, NJ

You may have seen this event on MSNBC or You Tube: At one of the many notorious August town hall meetings, a woman in a wheelchair ignores a barrage of heckling and stoically reads a brief statement in favor of health care reform.

Marianne Hoynes of Ocean Grove, NJ read on as Congressman Frank Pallone strained to hear her. A man booed incessantly, eyes closed rocking in his seat. Others repeatedly shouted the demand that she, "Ask a question!"

Marianne Hoynes: Shouted Down - Speaking Out

In the end, the left wing pundits picked up on the opposition's blatant incivility and the terror of this ugly vignette.

Marianne got through her statement, but her message was lost. She told me that during the entire two hours of the town hall session there was no real discussion of health care issues, no exchange of ideas, no questions intelligent enough to be answered with a rational response.

I wanted Ms. Hoynes to have a real chance to speak her mind. She has a lot to say and her story is timely. Please take a few moments to hear her out.

At 43 years old in 2005, Marianne was generally healthy. She did weight training two hours a day, five times a week at a local gym. But, a skin rash caused by Granuloma Anulare, a chronic viral disease that is usually asymptomatic, was spreading over her body, joint by joint.
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In 2006, she moved to South Carolina for a year during which she curtailed her work-out regiment and her health took a sudden tumble. Apparently, her strenuous exercise routine was masking an underlying illness. Now, the pain and stiffness was impossible to ignore.

Today, at age 47, she has been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sjogren's Syndrome, both associated with autoimmune dysfunction confirmed by high levels of antinuclear antibody (ANA). Chronic back problems now limit her ability to walk. She is being diagnosed for treatment of herniated disks. She hopes this problem is not associated with her autoimmune condition as then it would be acute and untreatable.

Youthful health to critical illness in a matter of three years, it could happen to any of us and it does happen to many of us.

"This country is a completely different place to live in when you get sick," she stated at the Congressman Frank Pallone's town hall. "Please protect me from the extortion of the pharmaceutical giants."

In our conversation she elaborated. "The minute I was diagnosis it was like the medical system strapped on the feed bag." She described how, even though she has Medicare, her medical costs are nearly $10,000 per year.
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"I made a big mistake when I became eligible for Medicare," she explains. "I had six months to purchase a supplemental plan and didn't know it, and now that I'm sick no private insurer will cover me." The next chance she will have to purchase private supplemental Medicare insurance will be her sixty-fifth birthday.

She told me how the new biological drug Enbrel worked wonders after being bedridden for two summer months last year. But when the free samples ran out she was unable to afford the $600 per month co-pay for the drug that was priced at $1,600 per month. "I've chatted with people in other countries and these drugs are available and affordable. The world is watching us have this debate and they find it appalling."

One of the drugs Marianne now takes costs $389 every two weeks. Marianne believes medical care is a human right and she doesn't buy the argument that a government sponsored insurance program is socialist. "We all pay in. It's much more a fee for service." Medicare's out-of-pocket payments are similar to private insurance plans: a premium, a deductible, co-pays and don't forget that Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program, is purchased from private insurance companies and has that huge "donut hole" in its coverage.

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Chaz Valenza is writer and small business owner in New Jersey. He earned his MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. His current feature film project is "Single Point Failure" an insider's account of how the Reagan Administration (more...)

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"I want to know, where is the audacity? Sometimes ... by Margaret Bassett on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 10:06:25 AM
Ms Hoynes has the courage to tell the truth to the... by Jason Paz on Saturday, Sep 12, 2009 at 2:02:10 AM
I am 32 and on disability, I dislike being on it- ... by Jesse Mathewson on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 10:25:37 AM
Is not the answer to problems caused by runaway ca... by Paula Sayles on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 11:17:51 AM
6 insurance companies, over 100 banks, and several... by Jesse Mathewson on Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009 at 9:13:54 AM
So, James... should people merely accept that some... by Theresa "Darklady" Reed on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 12:07:23 PM
We all die, stop trying to prevent it in all cases... by Jesse Mathewson on Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009 at 9:14:42 AM
If you are not on SSI by choice, then decline it. ... by Walter Barton on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 1:08:13 PM
YOu idiot, you did not read what I wrote...THANKS ... by Jesse Mathewson on Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009 at 9:15:54 AM
Yes, the system is broken and what the "government... by Walter Barton on Thursday, Sep 17, 2009 at 3:30:21 PM
The current system is set so that if a person beco... by Jesse Mathewson on Sunday, Sep 20, 2009 at 9:30:40 PM
And believe you me, I am certainly human. Yes, I d... by Walter Barton on Monday, Sep 21, 2009 at 8:24:15 PM
You whine that you are ONLY 32 and on SSI AGAINST ... by weslen1 on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 1:18:38 PM
Possibly reading the entire thing may have cleared... by Jesse Mathewson on Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009 at 9:20:07 AM
great article, i put it on my Facebook page... by Meryl Ann Butler on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 12:34:17 PM
with this woman. I personally do not have to worry... by Archie on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 12:36:35 PM
I would like to ask the rightwingers if it would b... by Carol Crown on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 12:39:07 PM
also provides for Ombudsman service to individuals... by Carol Ann Wood on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 12:44:34 PM
I did watch this encounter, and it was disgraceful... by weslen1 on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 1:27:41 PM
I wish you the best, Marianne, in your search for ... by Walter Barton on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 1:28:16 PM
The politicians are our representative government ... by LanceThruster on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 4:02:26 PM
I wrote "your ‘mistake'" as the subject and mean... by LanceThruster on Monday, Sep 14, 2009 at 12:33:15 PM
Sign off if you don't f ing like it. I am a long t... by Hillbilly on Friday, Sep 11, 2009 at 9:14:05 PM
For all you nasty vile creatures who don't have an... by macdon1 on Saturday, Sep 12, 2009 at 3:23:27 AM