HHS Community Health Care Discussions: Travis's Story

Uploaded by ForumOnHealthCare on 04.03.2009

TRAVIS ULERICK: Hi, I'm Travis Ulerick.
I'm a firefighter EMT here in Dublin, Indiana.
I hosted a health care community discussion, and this is my town.
Dublin is your all-American small town.
Everyone knows each other; everyone sees each other out;
everybody cares about each other and what's going on.
The problems they have here are probably the same they see all
across the country: Is the fact we have uninsured people.
They just, they can't afford the insurance or they're not
provided the insurance.
They can't afford health costs; they can't afford ER visits;
they can't afford ambulance rides.
There's no opportunities to get preventative care.
There's no opportunities to access those things that could
prevent them from having the problems that they have to deal
with down the road.
Whenever change.gov started posting listings
that they wanted to host health
care discussions, I'd actually talked to my mother, and she
encouraged me to stop complaining about all the
problems I saw on the job and actually do something about it.
So I decided that this was my opportunity to host a meeting to
get people together and actually try to talk about the issue and
at least give our opinion.
DEANNA RUSSELL: My son and many other people that was actually
born with these illnesses they cannot control -- how are they
going to get health care if they have a pre-existing conditions?
Something that's been there - he has no choice of?
TRAVIS ULERICK: This is Deana Russell.
Her son is Kyle Russell, 13.
He was born with a congenital heart defect called Epstein's
She attended our health care meeting and shared her story.
DEANNA RUSSELL: This right here is Kyle Russell.
He's 14 years old now, and he's had a hard life.
He keeps going.
Looking at him, you wouldn't be able to tell there's something
wrong unless you see all the scars or him in distress.
Then you'll know.
Here's one when he was still in the hospital.
I didn't get to hold him until he was almost six months old -
before his procedure.
And actually, I held the pillow that had him on it So, actually,
I had the pillow, but, it was okay, it was better than not -
LYNDSAY BOLAND: It's still not the same.
DEANNA RUSSELL: No, not even close.
Yeah, he's been through a lot, and like you said, for them to
later on, you know, you fought this long, sorry we can't help
you any farther, that would just - that's not even cool.
LYNDSAY BOLAND I think you brought that up in the
discussion: You know, he's going to grow up, get a job, and
they're not going to cover him, health care-wise.
That's not fair to him.
Not at all.
LESTER SHARP: Once he gets a job, Medicaid's not going to
cover him.
I mean, is he going to have to be poor all of his life in order
to have insurance?
DEANNA RUSSELL: I don't think it's right for the insurance
companies to have that much control.
TRAVIS ULERICK: I think definitely there are people
that, I guess, maybe have better influence and money.
And I think the system seems to work well for them.
It is the best system in the world for those people.
It's the people that don't have the money, that don't have the
privilege that it's maybe not the best system.
This is Dr. James Bertsch.
He attended our health care meeting.
He runs the local doctor's office.
DR. JAMES BERTSCH: We run a family practice.
We're the only doctor in several miles, and we do everything we
can that the community needs.
TRAVIS ULERICK: So, roughly how many patients do you see during
one day's period?
DR. JAMES BERTSCH: Between my nurse practioner and myself,
we'll see between 60 and 70 patients in an average day.
The reason why we're so busy is that we have an open door
We're always taking new patients, and we try to take
every insurance policy available.
We take all the Medicaids, all kinds.
But there are a lot of doctors who are refusing to take
A lot of doctors are refusing to take Medicare.
A lot of them are only taking cash-pay patients, and they can
get by seeing probably a third of what I see and make the same
That's not what I choose to do, and I understand why they're
doing that, but how does that help the community?
If I did that in this community, I would be of little value.
So somehow we have to help the primary care physicians like
myself, you know, survive.
Community health care is very, very important.
Because if that doesn't work, the whole system just kind of
It won't work.
EMT : President-elect Obama wants to bring the voices and
health care concerns of all Americans to Washington.
TRAVIS ULERICK : After the discussion, we got together, and
we just pretty much went through it systematically and tried to
pull out all the key topics, and we listed them down and tried to
answer all the questions that the Obama health policy team
asked, and pretty much gave an overview of everything that we
talked about at the meeting.
My hopes and dreams are that the health policy team pretty much
systematically went through everybody's responses and just
tried to get a rough idea of how everybody - all the American
people - feel about the issue.
And what we think are the problems, what we don't
understand about the problem, and what we think might be
possible solutions to the problem.
And hopefully, they take that information, and everybody can
work together, and we can get some health care reform.
(Music Playing)
JEANNE LAMBREW: It is interesting, you know?
What a rare chance you get to kind of look into the inside of
kind of all these community discussions and see what people
RESEARCHER: And how people express things, and really get
their thoughts and feelings about it, and how to move ahead,
so - JEANNE LAMBREW: Our whole hope is that harnessing this
information, hearing these voices, we can then learn what
works, what doesn't work, and translate that into the type of
plan that the American public wants, needs and can be enacted.
So hopefully a year from now, we can all be celebrating
implementing the plan that we are helping to develop today.