Local 222 VP: “Shameful” That People Die From Lack of Healthcare

September 11, 2020

Local 222 Vice President and General Executive Board member Margaret Dabrowski addressed a virtual town hall on Medicare for All organized by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) on August 26. Dabrowski, a 911 dispatcher for the City of New Britain, spoke both about how the for-profit health insurance system affects people who call her as a 911 operator and about her own experiences with the healthcare system.

“Our union has been supporting a single-payer Medicare for All model for healthcare since about 1943,” Dabrowski began. “We understand that healthcare should not be tied to your employment, should not be tied to your marital status.”

She related how an injury she experienced earlier in the summer kept her out of work for four weeks, just waiting to get an MRI, and how her $4,000 deductible meant that she had to pay $700 that very morning for a brace.

“You can negotiate [payment plans] with your doctor,” Dabrowski pointed out, but “you can’t negotiate with CVS when you want your medication and it costs eight or nine hundred dollars and they want that money up-front.”

She also shared how she sees the effect of our dysfunctional health care system in her job as a dispatcher. “I have people calling me on 911, they’re afraid to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. They just want a medic to look at them because they can’t afford the hospital bill, they can’t afford the ambulance bill, or they wait until they’re seriously ill to call for an ambulance. They don’t go to the doctor because they can’t afford the co-pays, they can’t afford the bills.

“I deal with this every day as a 911 dispatcher, I deal with people in crisis all the time. It makes me want to cry because people just can’t go to the doctor’s.”

Senator Blumenthal linked the struggle for healthcare to the struggles for justice going on in the streets. “We’re seeing a movement for justice in this country,” he said, not only for the victims of police brutality but for justice in housing, education, in the workplace and in healthcare. He spoke of how moved he was, attending demonstrations all around the state, organized by young people, and said “I hope that Medicare for All is part of our cry for justice in this country.”

Also participating in the town hall were Wendell Potter, a former health insurance executive and founder of Center for Health and Democracy; Dr. Mark Stelzner, a professor of economics at Connecticut College; and Erica Watson, a STEM educator and lecturer at Eastern Connecticut State University who is an expert on racial health disparities in the state.

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