I sent an email to my Senate mailing list requesting support for a single-payer Medicare-for-All system, and for personal stories describing the problems people are having with their health care coverage. Within a few weeks, some 40,000 people signed the single-payer petition and more than 4,000 sent in their personal stories. I want to thank all of those who responded.
I collected some of the letters in a booklet, The Health Care Crisis: Letters from Vermont and America. In poignant and heartbreaking terms, the letters describe the pain and outrage that people are experiencing within our dysfunctional health care system.
A man in Swanton, Vt., told the story of his younger brother, a combat-decorated veteran of the Vietnam conflict, who died three weeks after being diagnosed with colon cancer. He was laid off from his job and could not afford COBRA coverage. When he was in enough pain to see a doctor, it was too late. He left a wife and two teenage sons in the prime of his life at 50 years old. The attending doctor said that if he had only sought treatment earlier he would still be alive.
A woman in Eagle, Idaho, wrote of a beautiful, intelligent, hard working small business owner who died because she couldn't afford to buy health insurance for her family nor her employees. She was 53 and I will never forgive my county for allowing the greed of the insurance companies to limit her opportunity for preventable health care. A colonoscopy at 50 would have saved her life.
Because every American needs to hear whats going on with health care in this country, I intend to read some of these letters on the floor of the Senate and send a copy of the booklet to every member of Congress.