Sunday, November 4, 2007 9:36 AM

Staying Hungry for Health Care and for SCHIP

By Donna Smith, American SiCKO

DENVER – Being hungry for change is not a new condition for any of us who are struggling with the broken U.S. health care system. Many of us have been physically, mentally and emotionally hungry for many years. And no one has changed the conditions causing that hunger for millions of Americans.

But in one program area, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), we seemed to understand all of the issues. Healthy kids are better for the nation. Many parents work but cannot afford insurance coverage. Sick children dying due to lack of health care access that the nation can afford is really bad PR. So Congress passed that reform in the 1990s, and low-income, working-poor families were able to get coverage for their kids.

In recent weeks, Congress has been trying to reauthorize the SCHIP program. The first bill passed and signed expanded coverage to include 10 million kids, but the president and his loyal followers didn’t like that. First they cited worries about pushing families off private insurance, and then later the tobacco tax included to pay for the expansion was cited as just another tax-and-spend initiative. The president vetoed the bill despite widespread public support for the program and its expansion. And Congress did not have the votes to override that veto.

I have to note that on the same day he vetoed the SCHIP bill, George W. Bush asked Congress for $46 billion more for the Iraq war. So much for objecting to spending.

People protested from coast-to-coast. But that protesting has, so far, not made the difference in this battle for the health of our kids.

Now, Congress has submitted yet another SCHIP bill for the president’s signature. They changed a few items, but not enough according to the president. The second version of the bill will likely also be vetoed.

A few of my friends from ‘SiCKO’ and I decided we wanted to take additional action to support the passage of SCHIP, and we decided a hunger strike would be our protest. Adrian Campbell of Michigan, Reggie Cervantes of Oklahoma (9/11 rescue worker) and I began our liquid fasts on November 1, at midnight. We are taking in only water and non-caloric fluids (like broth).

All three of us know the hunger of choosing between health care and food and other life essentials, and each of us still confronts those trade-offs every day even when not fasting. Sometimes people mistakenly think that just because we were lucky enough to be on the screen in ‘SICKO,’ we were actually lifted out of our struggles. Having one’s story told does not in itself fix the problems. We are all hard-working women who are fighters and survivors.

But we’re staying hungry until there is a SCHIP reauthorization. We will break our strike when Congress passes and the president signs a new bill. If they don’t do that before the holidays, we ask them to temporarily fund the program and then go right back at it immediately upon their return. If they agree to do so, we will break this strike. We object to any measure that would simply fund the program at current levels for a whole year without enhancement just to break the government deadlock. The American people – and our kids – deserve better.

What's our stake in this? Between us, Adrian, Reggie and I have nine children and 13 grands. The time has come for mothers to take a stand. And we are doing so.

Our hunger strike will continue until November 21, unless Congress and the president act sooner. The risk we are taking seems like nothing compared to what millions face in our health care system every day, and we pray that our government recognizes that and acts sooner rather than later.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 6:51 AM

Michigan Hurting Again: SiCKO Forms Local APUHC Chapter


Adrian Campbell at a Peace Rally. Adrian is organizing the Michigan Chapter of the American Patients for Universal Health Care

DETROIT -- GM may close yet another plant and retirees may now live in fear about the long-term viability of their benefits -- all thanks to the recent strike settlement agreement which, once again, will see Michigan families put in peril. So one young Michigan resident is determined to help out on her home state turf where she fears the future may be slipping away.

On Thursday October 4th, 2007, join with other concerned Michigan citizens at the AMC Movie Theatre in Sterling Heights, for a showing of 'SiCKO' at 7:20 p.m. The theatre is located at 44681 Mound Rd. Sterling Heights, MI, 48314.

The Michigan Chapter of the American Patients for Universal Health Care (apuhc.com)is underway, and will start out by inviting GM and UAW retirees to this 'SiCKO' showing, along with anyone else who has not seen the film. The Michigan Chapter is being started by American SiCKO Adrian Campbell, whose mother and father are recent GM retirees. Adrian loves her home state and worries about her parents and about the future for her own daughter.

The lack of universal health care and the ensuing health care costs crisis has added to not only the woes of many Michigan families, according to Adrian, but has also forced the U.S. auto industry into terrible agreements and strategies just to stay afloat at all. Michigan, once the proud center of the nation's powerful and thriving auto-making giants, has endured shot after shot of bad news and trauma -- all of which places the state's residents even more prominently in the front of the battle to stop the madness and fix the health care system.

Adrian will be at the showing and hopes we can pack the theatre full. in addition to her worries about her parents and her home state, Adrian is deeply dismayed by George Bush's veto of the SCHIP bill extension. "The kids," said Adrian, "He cannot even cover the kids."

A website is in development for the Michigan chapter, but until it is up and ready, folks can visit www.apuhc.com. Adrian hopes to help those recent retirees of GM and those who have lost their jobs in Michigan and have no insurance or access to health care. This is an organization for health care patients - their families and friends - united in support for guaranteed universal health care for every American.

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Friday, September 7, 2007 1:19 PM

Canadian Citizen Thanks the SiCKOs

Contibuted by Adrian Campbell, American SiCKO

DETROIT -- Hey, it's Adrian here. Kyle and I are still working on this Canuck-Yankee relationship, and I'm still looking for a better job since I was fired for being un-American by appearing in 'SiCKO.'

My little girl, Aurora, is doing OK, but friends and family have to help me find a way to get the tubes in her ears that she needs. It really hurts to have to beg for health care. But you all know about that.

Last night, I got an email from a Canadian man who wants to support the effort for the U.S. Congress to pass HR676, Rep. John Conyers', D-MI, bill to give every American health care.

Below is the message, and I thought it was especially fitting for 9/11:

Dear Adrian,

For the last 20 years, I have worked for two companies that write software for public transits agencies .

Most of our clients are American Public Transit Agency which include New Jersey Transit, Pierce Transit (Tacoma Washington), Metro-Dade Transit (Miami Florida), COTA (Columbus Ohio), SORTA (Cincinnati Ohio) and Ride Smart (who provide public transit for Wayne, ma comb and Oakland Countries in Michigan.

I have traveled many times to my American clients over the years. They are great people, and we would sometime go to hockey and baseball games after work. There are just a few other which I did not write software for but other people in the company did -- (those firms were in) Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and many others which I cannot remember.

I guess about 90 percent of my income over the last 20 years has come from work I did for my American clients. I owe the American people a big debt for providing me with a good paying job for the last 20 years. I got this job just a few months after graduating from Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. I live just outside of Hamilton, Ontario. Your guy friend will know where these places are... just west of Toronto.

I am trying to repay this debt to the American people by in any way I can helping to get HR676 passed. On YouTube I leave comments saying that HR676 is the solution to the healthcare problems in America.

I also emailed Reggie from 'SiCKO' to tell her to thank all the 9/11 workers for searching for remains of my fellow Canadians. There were about 20 Canadians who died in the WTC on 9/11. I know at least the remains of one Canadian were found, and he has been buried next to his parents grave in Mississauga, Ontario.

I also saw the last YouTube video of your burning all your things from Meijer's.

Good luck with your fight for HR676. I look forward to day when the president of the United States of America signs the bill HR676 and it becomes law and all Americans will have health insurance just like we have in Canada.


Peter

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007 7:29 PM

Adrian Campbell: My Post-'SiCKO' Life

By Adrian Campbell, American SiCKO

WATERFORD, MI -- I have been cancer free since my surgery in the fall of 2004. I visited Kyle Belward up at the Sault this past weekend. We talked about eventually moving to Saskatchewan.

Work in Windsor, Ontario, for Kyle, my "man-friend" from Canada was hard to find, so he went out to Fort McMurray, Alberta, to work in the oil sands. He finally came back to Windsor this past April, just in time for my birthday. But even since he has been back, he has had to go out of town for work. He currently is up in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, and then when he is done there he will be in Toronto. It is hard, but that is the life of an iron worker.

But things have been difficult for me, too, since everyone saw me in 'SiCKO.'

I was called into my supervisor’s office Thursday afternoon, July 12. I was not sure why I would be getting called in; the departments I managed were running smoothly. I sat down at his desk, and he said “Well your position has been cut.” He pulls out a folder and handed it to me. “This is your severance package.” I could not believe it! I was shocked, mortified, and confused.

I asked why me and why he couldn’t send me to another department, or to another store. Mr. B as I will call him, said he could no longer have me working at the store or for the company and that it was bad publicity for the company to employ someone who is in a controversial documentary. In the past few weeks, he has called me “anti-American” for being in 'SiCKO.' Wanting healthcare -- good quality free healthcare -- is anti-American?

Meijer had to cut five managers at each store that day. I was number six from my store. The movie and his extreme conservative feelings were just an excuse to get rid of me. I am not sorry for sharing my story in the movie. I feel much better about it, because it is being used for something bigger.

There was no legitimate reason to fire me. I drove up sales, had many customer compliments, I got along with everyone at work. I was just unfortunate to get a new boss who felt that I would be a threat to Meijer’s reputation. Why was I a threat?

I never spoke to customers about the movie or my free healthcare beliefs. I never spoke to my fellow employees about it either. I had been recognized by a couple of customers, but they were guys who wanted my phone number more than to talk about healthcare in America. I had told my superiors that I was in 'SiCKO,' and informed them that I never mention Meijer in the movie.

Well, I never mentioned Meijer until now. I was a salaried manager, making $40,000 a year. I managed at my store, the bakery, the deli, the café, and the cheese shop. Due to corporate greed, I was forced to work 60 hours a week to make up for the lack of employees in the departments. I was stressed out a lot, tired, and bitchy. But I still went in every day, because I needed the job, to pay for my medical bills. It is a vicious cycle!

As Michigan’s unemployment rate continues to increase each day, I am saddened at my now former employer. Meijer’s roots are here in Michigan. They started in Greenville, Michigan back in 1934. Now 73 years later, they are no longer the family friendly place to work and shop. Instead they are contributing to the problems that plague this state and the rest of the country.

Now I find myself filling out the unemployment papers. My daughter Aurora was supposed to have tubes put in her ears next month, but I guess I will have to put that on the back burner. There is something wrong with this country, when a 4-year-old cannot have a medical procedure done, because her mom is without a job or health insurance. I am looking for work, but I am looking out of the country.

Don’t worry we will be fine. I am a fighter, and I have to hold strong for my daughter. Besides there is always Canada...

I love my country. I am very proud to be American, but when I cannot provide my child with medical care, it is time to look elsewhere. I hooked my Canuck years ago. Our relationship is stronger than ever. It’s always interesting, an American and a Canadian dating; it is like our own romantic version of Canadian Bacon.

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