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PHLP Releases 'Uninsured Pennsylvanians: Meet Your Friends, Neighbors, Co-Workers'

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 General News J E 4
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PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 8 As Congress debates health care reform, the Pennsylvania Health Law Project has issued Uninsured Pennsylvanians. This new report chronicles the personal struggles of eight Pennsylvanians who have little or no health insurance coverage.

You can view a copy of the report online at PHLP's web site: http://www.phlp.org/.

"Often, the uninsured are made out to be poor, lazy, unemployed, homeless, and irresponsible. In other words, not like us," said Dr. Gene Bishop, who interviewed the individuals and authored the profiles. "The opposite is true." According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 90 percent of the 1.3 million uninsured people in Pennsylvania go to work or live in a household where someone goes to work. Often they are not offered health insurance at work or the coverage offered is too expensive to buy.

Uninsured Pennsylvanians is a first-hand look at the daily difficulties people without health insurance face and the reasons they do not have health coverage. These stories illustrate the importance of securing quality health insurance for all. Domenic, for example, worked for more than 40 years until he was laid off and lost his employer-sponsored health insurance. He never thought he would need government assistance but, as a taxpayer, he believed help would be there for him. "I'm looking for a little bit of help, not a long term handout," he said. Domenic discovered the reality: a working adult without a child or a disability is not eligible for Medicaid, the largest government program for the non-elderly (those under 65). Without insurance to pay for his medications, Domenic lost three toes. They were amputated when he developed a serious infection due to his untreated diabetes.

"Stories like Domenic's get us beyond the numbers," said Laval Miller-Wilson, PHLP's Executive Director. "The uninsured are our neighbors, living every day with illness and fear --fear of getting sicker, fear of losing their homes due to unpaid medical bills, fear of acknowledging a serious health problem only to be faced with the staggering costs of treatment." While PHLP was able to assist some of these individuals in obtaining at least partial coverage, not every uninsured Pennsylvanian will "be lucky" enough to find a program to meet their needs.

Uninsured Pennsylvanians describes people across the Commonwealth who are:

Being an uninsured Pennsylvanian means:

What Must Be Done: The health care status quo is not an option for Pennsylvania. Currently 1.3 million residents of Pennsylvania do not have health insurance. Without reform, the number could swell to almost two million. Pennsylvania needs meaningful health care reform now!

PHLP is a nonprofit law firm which works to reform and improve the public health care system. Each year, PHLP provides legal assistance to thousands of low-income individuals facing legal, administrative or financial barriers to obtaining needed health care treatment. For more information, visit www.phlp.org.

-- Hard working, but have no affordable insurance: Meet Hope of Philadelphia County, a high school science teacher who retired at age 52 and gave up her employer-sponsored insurance to take care of her elderly mother.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Health Law Project
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