Wednesday, September 19, 2007 5:25 PM

Nationwide Vigils Sept. 28 for Health Care Justice

American Patients for Universal Health Care hosts first national action

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Around the country on Sept. 28, advocates for universal single-payer health care will be attending vigils to show support for the families who have lost loved ones because they lacked health insurance.

American SiCKO Donna Smith, also Colorado Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) Congressional District Point Person and PDA Health care for All/Single-Payer Issue Organizing Team member has established American Patients for Universal Health Care (APUHC).

Smith and her husband Larry will join Julie Pierce in Washington D.C. for the Tracy Pierce Memorial Candlelight Vigil on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Friday, Sept. 28 at sunset. Julie is Tracy's widow, and also tells her story in 'SiCKO.' "Tracy died of kidney cancer at age 37 after repeated denials for life-saving treatment by our insurance carrier." Tracy, Sr., also left behind his 15 year old son, Tracy, Jr., and Julie promised "the fight would not end with his death."

Also on hand will be Dawnelle Keys, who appears in 'SiCKO' and who lost her beautiful little girl Mychelle when an 'out of network' hospital denied the toddler life-saving emergency care.

Joining Julie, Dawnelle, Donna and Larry will be another American SiCKO Adrian Campbell of Detroit who, along with her beautiful little girl, Aurora, has been fighting for care and benefits for so long that they have resorted to slipping over the US-Canadian border for care when needed.

John Graham, 9/11 rescue worker and American SiCKO, will also travel to Washington, D.C., from his home in New Jersey to join in this call for national action. If universal, single-payer health care was in place, thousands of 9/11 heroes would be receiving medical care for a wide range of serious illnesses related to their heroic service at ground zero.

APUHC was established to draw attention to this national crisis that leaves over 18,000 Americans dead annually because they lack health insurance, or because the insurer refuses to approve treatment. Before the next presidential election, approximately 25,000 more Americans will die simply because they did not have adequate health care coverage. Countless others will suffer.

"By holding vigils in cities across the country, we hope to highlight the fact that more American have died in this country than have died on the battlefield in Iraq in the last four years," said Smith. "Americans should be just as outraged over these deaths as they are outraged over Iraq." It is hoped that the vigils will move the issue front and center in the minds of voters.


In Denver, the "Vigil for Health Care Justice" will take place on the west steps of the Capitol building, Sept. 28 at sunset. They will draw attention to Paul Hannum, who will not be present because he lost his life to appendicitis, and little Thomas Wilkes, a toddler, who will live as long as his parents have the financial resources to continue his life-saving treatments.

In Chicago, from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, Thompson Center Plaza at Clark and Randolph, CSPAN (Chicago Single-Payer Action Network) will host another vigil and welcome Steve Skvara, the brave union man who asked the Democratic presidential candidates ho he was supposed to cover himself and his wife based on the current health care crisis. Also speaking to the Chicago crowd will be Illinois Rep. Mary Flowers,main sponsor of the Illinois State Bill HB311 "Medicare for All," which has close to 70 co-sponsors.

In Kansas City, a solidarity vigil is planned for 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, at the southeast corner of the Russell Majors Waddell Park, located on 83rd Street between Ward Parkway and State Line Rd. Near Coventry Insurance Company (the company that denied Tracy Pierce a bone marrow transplant). Tracy Pierce, Jr., will be attending as will other members of the Pierce family.

Plans are also being made in Detroit Michigan and Florida. APUHC is targeting these states: Ohio, California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, Hawaii, Texas and Georgia for vigils, and hopes that other states will join in the effort.

For more information or to get help planning a solidarity vigil, contact Donna at

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Thursday, September 13, 2007 9:38 AM

"You Are Rude"

As reported by Dawnelle Keys, Julie Pierce and Donna Smith

SACRAMENTO -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had an aide tell three women featured in 'SiCKO' they were rude to request a moment of the governor’s time. Dawnelle Keyes, Julie Pierce and Donna Smith stood politely at the office door of California’s leader and waited for a response to their request for a meeting.

California state troopers guarded the door to the governor’s office and sternly protected Schwarzenegger from the three women as staffers passed in and out of the office, some glancing, some laughing but all ignoring the three private citizens the governor did not wish to see.

They filled out written requests two days in a row and were rebuffed two days in a row by Arnold’s staff members. They wanted to see the governor because California’s legislators passed a bill (AB8) which would wildly enrich private insurance companies, but called the measure “universal health care.”

But the governor just didn't have time to meet with them - he claimed to be too busy for 30 seconds to listen to any information from the 'SiCKO' trio, who know first hand the damage our profit-driven health care system can cause. He did, however, have time for some photo opportunities with children and business interests.

The three women did exactly as they were told by the governor’s guards. They called a phone number on a business card given to them by a trooper. After making their way through the menu options – including number three which would have told them the latest news on Maria Shriver – the women finally reached a staff aide who said, “Don’t you think it’s rude to request a meeting with the governor on such short notice?” The women did not feel they had been rude at all. The staffer asked for a cell phone number but then chastised the women for not speaking fast enough, “Look, I need the number quickly,” he said. The 'SiCKO' women are pretty sure he never wrote down that number.

Funny, the 'SiCKO' women thought they all worked for the people of the state of California. Look at the governor’s website. He calls himself “The People’s Governor.” He just doesn’t really want to be all the people’s governor.

All three of these women are victims of the brutal system the governor wants to expand and reward. All three were in Sacramento to be honored for their courage in telling their stories in Michael Moore's film and for continuing their fight for reform.

Call and write the governor of California. He has called a special legislative session to make sure legislators give him all that he wants and all that he has promised special interest groups on health care reform. But it’s a ruse. It’s a scam. And it’s not what Californians need or want.

The plan the governor will push through is one he has carefully crafted for the wealthiest few who do have an audience with him, including his friends in the insurance industry. And many California legislators are too weak and frightened to respond.

Let’s tell him that it’s not rude to ask for his time. Call 916-445-2841 or visit the website at

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