Peter Keenan, Elmira

My name is Peter Keenan and I live in Elmira, NY. I work for a nonprofit company in Binghamton that provides residential treatment and services to abused and neglected children, and my wife is a stay at home mother to our three little boys.

I have osteoarthritis, which has become worse over time because I have had to delay treatment, like my hip replacements, because of the cost. Healthcare is a human right. It boils down to the people that we’re talking about: people like us, like your neighbors, like your parents and grandparents, the person checking you out at the grocery store, the nurse at your doctor’s office, the children that you teach at school - people with healthcare issues are all around us. We’re one and the same, and no one deserves to go without care when we as a society can help them. It’s up to all of us. We’re all in this together.

Betty Warrick, Youngstown

My name is Betty Warrick and I am 49 years old. I live in Youngstown. When I was a self-employed small business owner, I found it difficult and expensive to obtain health insurance through the Chamber of Commerce. I had trouble affording healthcare, especially prescription drugs and dental care. This problem became even more personal 12 years ago when my uninsured mother had a heart attack and could not get follow up care. Her delayed care created huge medical bills and made her health problems worse. I now run a small company in Niagara Falls with 18 employees.  Health Insurance costs have become prohibitively expensive for both my company and my employees. Although the company pays half the premiums and funds the very high deductible through an HRA, some of my employees pay as much as 20% of their income for family health coverage. I believe we need the New York Health Act so that healthcare can be accessible and affordable to everyone.

Jennifer, Suffolk County

My name is Jennifer and I am 40 years old. I live in Suffolk County. The costs of our restrictive healthcare system have made my health worse and contributed to my family’s bankruptcy.

After I had my spinal surgery, I couldn’t do my job anymore, so I lost my health coverage and couldn't afford the costs of seeing my surgeon for followup care. My back didn't heal properly and is still causing me much pain and discomfort, which also led me to develop anxiety that I can not presently treat because I cannot find a psychiatrist that accepts my current health insurance anywhere feasibly near where I live.

When I became eligible for Medicare for my unresolved back pain and issues, I began treatment with multiple doctors. I was billed for the 20% not covered by Medicare totaling in the thousands of dollars and was unable to pay. I ended up having to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy.

I support the New York Health Act because it would be less expensive and less restrictive, allowing for people to see any doctor they need to without having to make endless calls to insurance companies and doctors offices to see if they participate in a particular health plan. When people are going through major medical situations, they don't need the additional stress of high medical bills.

Candice Hildebrant, Babylon

My name is Candice Hildebrant and I live in Babylon, NY. At age 34, I am one of of the many people in America who is suffering from the broken healthcare system we have in our country right now. Every single day of my life I have to fight against my multiple chronic illnesses. It is a daily struggle that sometimes I win, and many times I lose. I have had to declare bankruptcy twice due to extensive medical costs, and am headed down the path to a third right now.

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Adam, Glens Falls

My name is Adam Jaubert and I live in Glens Falls. I am 49 years old. I am severely disabled and have trouble moving, but I have had to forgo prescription drugs and CAT scans I needed because of the costs. I also stayed in a job only to keep my health insurance, even though working is very difficult because I have to move a lot at my job. I support the New York Health Act because I feel ripped off and lied to by insurance. Why should a 2” piece of fabric cost $100? We need a lower-cost system all around.

Catherine Wolf, Katonah

I am writing this by raising my right eyebrow, which triggers a switch.

I have had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, for 21 long years. It is an expensive disease, especially in my current condition: quadriplegic and ventilator dependent.

Recently, I have been denied two drugs. The first is Rozerem that I have used for chronic insomnia for more than a decade. CVS Caremark demanded my physician reassess my use of this drug and get a “prior authorization.” He called to provide his expert medical judgment, but the representative still denied the authorization, saying my use of this drug is “either unknown or does not meet the requirement.”

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Timothy, Ontario County

My name is Timothy. I am 59 years old and live in Ontario County. I currently have Medicare but went without health insurance in the past. Once I became disabled, I had to wait two years before I got Social Security Disability and Medicare, and I depleted all my funds including my 401k while waiting, I had no health insurance for 2 years and had problems getting the health care that I needed when I was unemployed. I had to forgo regular check-ups, prescription drugs, dental care and diagnostic tests due to the costs. It has been difficult for me to afford the cost of premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket bills. When I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I had problems paying my medical bills and lost my house as a result.

Since then, I have saved enough to buy a used trailer to live in, but I am still struggling due to the increase in this year’s Medicare premiums. We need single-payer health care in New York so that no one else has to suffer simply because they got sick or had the misfortune of losing a job. Health care is a human right and it is our government’s responsibility to protect this right of ours.

Sarah Bednarek, Brooklyn

My name is Sarah Bednarek, and I am an artist, welder, and woodworker living in Brooklyn. At 38 years old, I have stage 4 cancer which could have been caught at an earlier stage if I had insurance, and I might not be facing such a terrifying prognosis now.  

Now I have Medicare, but for 10 years my pre-existing conditions and the cost made insurance impossible to get. Because I couldn't afford insurance, I did not get regular check ups that could have caught my cancer earlier. Furthermore, the emergency bills that I received were so astronomical that they were a completely unpayable abstraction, causing misery and anxiety just as I was dealing with my terrifying new medical reality.

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Danielle, Palmyra

My name is Danielle Fielding, I live in Palmyra, and I have multiple sclerosis. I receive Medicare due to my disability. I had Medicaid as a secondary insurance, but recently lost it because my husband got a raise. I am now having to choose between feeding my family and getting the treatments I need. I support the New York Health Act because no one in our state should have to make that kind of choice.

Kathleen, Livingston County

My name is Kathleen. I am 33 years old and live in Livingston County. After I graduated from college, I had no health care coverage for 4 years even though I was working two jobs at the time. At one job, I did not qualify for coverage as I averaged 33 hours a week there and 35 hours was the minimum required. Even though my other full-time employer offered coverage, it was too expensive for me to afford because I had a pre-existing condition. I had previously had Stage II melanoma —metastasized skin cancer which is a leading killer of young women. During this time, I paid out-of-pocket for any medical care I needed, but mostly I avoided seeking treatment because it was too expensive. When I finally found an employer who offered meaningful coverage that I could afford, I went for my long over-due screenings, and found out that my cancer was back. Melanoma is easy to treat in its early stages, so if I had been able to get coverage, a simple visit to a dermatologist would have likely been the end of my treatment. However, since I could not afford a simple screen for years, my cancer again metastasized. I ended up needing invasive surgery and rounds of chemo. This not only risked my life, but equated to unnecessary medical spending if I could have accessed routine, preventative care. Had I not lucked into an employer with affordable insurance, I would likely have died 7 years ago.

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