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Report: Kennedy Bill Best Bet for Virginians

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Monday, October 19, 2009   

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A health care bill supported by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Affordable Health Choices Act, would save Virginia families nearly $1,000 a year. That analysis, in a report just published by Health Care for America Now, finds that the bill makes health insurance affordable because it provides subsidies for coverage and includes a public option.

Matt Masterson, Virginia Beach, has been married 16 years and has three children. Because his family did not have health insurance, he says his wife was forced to see the local emergency room physician for a recurring ailment.

"Each time he said the same thing, 'You have an ulcer. You need to see your primary care physician.' Of course, we didn't have one, and she ended up being in the hospital for two weeks."

Even families in Virginia with employer-based health care coverage face high health costs. Virginians pay the highest percentage of premiums in the nation.

Masterson says his wife needed surgery and was hospitalized.

"Then something strange happened. They sent her home on what they called 'surgical furlough.' I kind of knew what they were doing, and sure enough, we received a call from the surgeon's office saying that we needed to pay the surgeon in advance."

Ultimately, Masterson appealed to the hospital directly, and his wife received care. However, the costs of those visits and other health issues ultimately forced the Masterson family into bankruptcy.

The Kennedy bill is known as the HELP bill, named for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The report, "Kennedy HELP Bill Best for VA," is available from the Virginia Organizing Project at www.VOP.org, or by calling 804-446-1886.




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