Thursday, September 5, 2013

Medicaid Expansion in Michigan Senate Hearing July 3, 2013

I was invited to the Michigan Senate Hearing on July 3, 2013 to tell my heart story in order to lobby for Medicaid Expansion. Less than ten minutes after opening the session Republican Senator Randy Richardville chose not to take testimony and adjourned the proceedings. As a result, I was unable to testify myself. However, Senator Glenn S. Anderson read my statement on my behalf. I have included it here. 

Senator Anderson’s statement is as follows: 

"Moving this legislation now will benefit 470,000 uninsured Michigan residents, but you don’t have to take my word for it. There are countless stories of people we represent—and you represent across the aisle—who are depending on this legislation to survive and avoid exorbitant debt in medical costs; people like Joe Ann Burgett fromSt. Clair County—not from my county, but from someone across the aisle—who is here today in the north Gallery. Joe Ann is a national spokeswoman for WomenHeart and a support network coordinator, as well as a You’re the Cure advocate for the American Heart Association. During a heart catheter procedure on July 1, 2002, Ms. Burgett flat lined three times. In 2008, she lost her health care coverage when she left her employment. Due to her lack of health insurance, she went over 18 months without medication. She did not qualify for Medicaid because she was receiving minimum unemployment benefits. She knew her health was gradually deteriorating so, in her words, she “swallowed her pride” and went to the People’s Clinic. It was necessary for her to go there at 12:30 a.m. or 1:00 a.m. and wait in line until the clinic opened the next morning at 7:30 a.m. It was March and it was below freezing. Ms. Burgett said that if you were not the first 10 to 15 people to arrive, you were sent away without seeing anyone. After waiting in line and then having her paperwork processed, an evaluation by a social worker, and her vital signs taken by a nurse, she was still waiting to see the doctor at 10:00 a.m. As a result of the nurse’s evaluation of Ms. Burgett’s vitals, she was informed by the doctor that he had ordered an ambulance to take her to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital emergency room. The doctor told her she was either having a heart attack or a stroke. Despite her dire situation, Ms. Burgett said she was reluctant to take an ambulance and even requested driving herself to the hospital due to the high costs and her lack of insurance. After being released from the hospital with proper medication, Ms. Burgett was required to visit the People’s Clinic monthly to refill her medications. According to Ms. Burgett, “I am just one of thousands of women in America who die or are in near-death situations and have to go to the emergency room for care because we cannot afford to see a cardiologist on a regular basis or purchase medications that are necessary to save our lives. One American dies of cardiovascular disease every 40 seconds, and takes the lives of more than 2,150 Americans each day.” How many of those deaths could be prevented by adequate health care, proper diagnosis, and treatment? It is absolutely vital that we take the time to return and resolve these issues with this Medicaid expansion crisis. There is not 40 seconds to waste. While Joe Ann’s story is harrowing, there are 470,000 more like it that are going to continue until we pass Medicaid expansion in Michigan. Simply put, we need to get this done and as soon as possible, and adjourning now only delays that. We have the votes to do this today, and that’s why I voted against the adjournment of session. We have a quorum, and we have the Gallery filled with supporters today. People like Joe Ann Burgett’s lives hang in the balance, and we should not delay on this important legislation any further. Today, the Michigan Senate let Joe Ann Burgett and let the people of Michigan down."

Here is the link to the entire journal for the session:   Page 1288 JOURN, 2013] [No. 61 AL OF THE SENATE [July 3 
Posted 7/12/2013

2014 Volunteer Recognition Award
Presented to 
Joe Ann Burgett
in appreciation pf your service, courage, commitment
& belief in our life-saving mission

American Heart Association
American Stroke Association

***This was awarded for my advocacy efforts for Medicaid Expansion in Michigan in July, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

"If you don't have any charity in your heart you have the worse kind of heart trouble." ~ Bob Hope

Seated: Ruby Foster
Back Row Left to Right: Sharon Mallon, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Joe Ann Burgett

Sunday, September 1, 2013

We Need Cures Not Cuts!

I am a WomenHeart Champion and National Spokeswoman for women living and thriving with heart disease as well as a  You're the Cure Advocate and Hero for the American Heart Association. The one lesson I learned from my death (I flat-lined three times On July 1, 2002) is that each of us is just one tiny heart beat this side of eternity. One American dies every 40 seconds from a heart attack. We do not have 40 seconds to waste arguing about the political issues regarding health research. The photo below was taken in April, 2013 at the Health Rally in Washington, DC.

Left to Right: Janine Krolikowski, Joe Ann Burgett and Yuki Nicolette

“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don't expect you to save the world I do think it's not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect. - Nikki Giovanni quotes (African-American Poet, b.1943

It was an honor to present the prestigious Wenger Award to Senator Debbie Stabenow for her tireless and extensive work on The Heart for Women Act. Left to Right: Me, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Dr. Nanette Wenger, Sharon Mallon, Lisa Tate and Debbie Loveless.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) among honorees
Washington, DC, April 8, 2013 – Three individuals and one organization will be honored tonight for their leadership in advancing women’s heart health at the 13th annual Wenger Awards, at the Ronald Reagan Building Atrium in Washington, DC. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease hosts the Wenger Awards annually in recognition of those who have set a precedent in prevention, treatment and care of heart disease in women. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in women, with 1 in 3 women dying from heart disease every year.
The Wenger Awards are named for Nanette Kass Wenger, MD, pioneer in women’s cardiovascular disease. The Wenger Awards is the only national recognition for those who are making extraordinary contributions to women’s heart health. This year’s honorees are:
The Honorable Debbie Stabenow (MI) for Excellence in Public Policy. Senator Stabenow is the first woman to be elected to the U.S Senate from the state of Michigan, and is currently serving her third term. Improving the lives of women and their families has been a priority throughout Senator Stabenow’s career on the local, state and national stage.
Senator Stabenow was the original sponsor of the HEART for Women Act, which she introduced in three sessions of Congress. She doggedly continued her efforts to address the lack of sex specific data which has been identified by the Institute of Medicine, Government Accounting Office, advocates, clinicians and women throughout the country as a serious problem.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Senator Stabenow and her staff, a critical provision from HEART for Women addressing the availability of sex specific data for drug and device clinical trials was included in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act signed by President Obama last July.

Senator Stabenow’s achievement ensures that sex-specific data will become publicly available on a more consistent and reliable basis, thereby improving the lives of women living with heart disease and give patients and providers confidence in their treatment choices.