Millions Without Healthcare Must End Now

By: Kristen Grimm, Mothers for Medicare For All

Kristen Grimm speaks at Our Revolution’s Organize To Win Summit in Nashville, TN on Saturday, February 8, 2020.

I am the mother of one of the bravest people I have ever known. My son’s name is Thomas. You don’t know him. But you have been fighting for him. Thomas has had 24 surgeries in his lifetime. Together we’ve walked the halls of children’s hospitals as warriors, overcomers, and as an uninsured and underinsured family. Because of our immoral system for how we do health care in this country, my family is constantly living with the fear that we will lose health care for our son.

Our son was born with a vascular condition that must be treated with routine surgeries until there is a cure. When things go financially wrong for our family, they go very wrong for our son. Recently, a major payment for one of my son’s surgeries was denied by our for-profit insurance company. They denied payment based on a sinister technicality.

We now owe a children’s hospitals 54K. After learning about our debt to a children’s hospital, my beautiful son recently looked at me and said, “I’m not going to tell you when I’m in pain anymore. I’ve cost this family too much money.”

When you walk the streets and knock on doors to fight for Medicare for All, you are fighting for my son. You are fighting so that no child will ever say these words to their mother ever again. You are fighting for our family and millions of people you do not know.

We live in a nation where human suffering and things like medical bankruptcy are normalized. Most people think that our children’s hospitals do not bankrupt families, but they are wrong.

Children’s hospitals routinely send families to collections and bring parents to their financial knees. We live in a nation that normalizes uninsured and underinsured children and adults. We pass weak health care laws that allow our kids to suffer and go without the care they need.

Let me be very clear: the days of passing health care laws that leave millions of people behind must come to an end.

Walking the halls of children’s hospitals led me to become a healthcare advocate for others. I realized that so much of our suffering is preventable and it does not have to be this way. I have been a healthcare advocate on one of the poorest streets in one of the wealthiest counties in this nation.

My friend, Mr. Walker, a man whom I met during my advocacy is another story about somebody you don’t know — but are fighting for.

Mr. Walker, once lived in a plywood shack with a dirt floor. He found himself experiencing homelessness because he needed a knee replacement surgery and didn’t have access to health care. He was uninsured and worked at a restaurant. Many days, he would work until he collapsed. He would go home to this plywood shack that he made out of leftover materials from a construction site dumpster. He lived there for three years and survived without electricity or running water.

We fought for months and months to help him get Medicaid through Social Security, a social program that was supposed to have included universal health care in it all along. When Mr. Walker lived in that plywood shack with a dirt floor he would dream of getting health care and say over and over again especially on the coldest nights, I will never, never, never, give up.

When walking the streets to knock on doors and fight for people you don’t know, I want you to think of Mr. Walker. No human being should experience homelessness because their bodies become so broken that they can barely function.

From time to time, Mr. Walker calls me in the morning. He calls me at 6:00 am. It’s usually on a day when I feel daunted by the task ahead of me. He knows that I am fighting for everyone and he says, “I’m calling to tell you what you need to hear. “Never, never, never give up.”

He says it again and again until I repeat it back to him. He tells me the same thing every time he calls: “Tell the truth! People need health care. Don’t ever give up for what you’re fighting for. Fight for the people. Fight with the truth. Fight for everyone.”

Our Revolution is dedicated to organizing a political revolution strong enough to challenge the structural forces that threaten our survival as a society.