Leslie Boyd is a mother in Asheville. Her son died at 33 when he couldn’t afford the regular tests that would have caught his cancer. Kathie McClure is a mom from Atlanta with two adult children who have had an almost impossible time finding affordable health coverage because of pre-existing conditions. But Leslie and Kathie aren’t just worrying about their own kids – they both are on the warpath to try and change our system to make health care affordable for everyone.
Leslie has been holding rallies (next one is Oct. 19th in Asheville) and has established a website for people to tell their stories of health care failures. Kathie – who came by the NC Justice Center this summer – has been on the road all over the US collecting stories of people working hard but not being able to get coverage or care.
As a longtime health advocate, I’ve met many people who are committed to remaking the system because of their sense of fair play and justice. I’ve met many people whose personal experience of health system disaster drives their desire for change. And certainly as a parent of kids with health coverage, I’ve had the same experiences of millions of parents when dealing with distant insurance companies and ever-increasing co-pays, deductibles and premiums.
Talking with committed women like Leslie and Kathie is something new however. These are mothers who are channeling their anger about their kids’ treatment by our crazy health system into quiet, forceful and determined action. I sure wouldn’t want to be a politician trying to explain to either Leslie or Kathie why I wasn’t working just as hard as I could for everyone to get the same great health coverage that I get under the Congressional or state health plan.
Real health care reform will be enormously hard to enact at the state and federal level. There are just too many people making too much money off of how the system currently works. Only a strong grassroots push like we are seeing from these two moms is going to give our elected officials the backbone to support reform that will really mean quality, affordable coverage for everyone.