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Senators Hear From HCFA Activist

Senators Hear From HCFA Activist

February 17, 2015

HCFA activist Priscila Espinosa testifying at Senate forum 2-11-15

Over one-fourth of the Massachusetts state Senators gathered last week at UMass Medical School in Worcester to hear the concerns of their constituents. These forums, known as the Commonwealth Conversations Tour, are an initiative led by Senate President Stan Rosenberg aimed at giving people the opportunity to make their voices heard on important issues as this legislative session begins.

Priscila Espinosa of Clinton, MA, a HCFA Leadership Team member since spring 2014, spoke at the Worcester forum on behalf of health care reform legislation. As both a consumer with a chronic illness and an active advocate with Health Care For All, Priscila has worked hard to advance HCFA legislative priorities such as the Barrier Free Care bill.

The Barrier Free Care bill would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for certain high-value, cost-effective preventive care medications such as asthma inhalers, diabetic insulin, high-cholesterol medications, or hypertension drugs.

Each speaker had two minutes, and the following is Priscila’s testimony.

“Hi, good evening, my name is Priscila Espinosa from Clinton, Worcester County. Thank you Senators for hosting this forum and taking the time to listen to us. I am here on behalf of the Health Care For All Leadership Team to speak to you about garnering your support to pass the Barrier Free Care bill, which you may have noticed has been introduced, and tossed back and forth the past couple of years. Unfortunately this bill has not passed and we need your support to do so. The Barrier Free Care bill prevents people with a chronic illness, such as heart disease, mental/physical disabilities, cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes, just to name a few, from foregoing their medical treatment (plan) due to high out of pocket expenses such copays for visits, medications, high deductibles for treatment or medical durable equipment. As a consumer and as someone who has loved ones with a chronic illness I urge you to pass this bill. I am sure we all know someone or have a loved one with a chronic illness. 

I also urge you to consider restoring full dental benefits [for adults on MassHealth], which were cut 5 years ago. In the past years you have done a great job restoring some benefits, but it is not yet fully restored. Please fully restore them!

Lastly, to wrap-up I would like to close with our heart disease model, which you may have noticed that a few days ago it was Wear Red for Women, to raise awareness about heart disease. With the Barrier Free Care, insurers will save $5,000 per/person, the patient will save $500+ per year, and medical adherence goes up 4.4-6.2%. This bill will not cost the state any additional spending; in fact it will save you money due to its prevention efforts. You may or may not know this, but heart disease is the #1 death toll, not just women, but for the US. Thank you for your time.”

When asked about the experience of testifying, Priscila described it as “Nerve-wrecking, but empowering! It felt wonderful to speak on behalf of such an awesome organization and Leadership Team.”

Over 40 people spoke at Wednesday’s forum moderated by Senator Chandler, with each speaker getting just two minutes to talk. Total attendance was over 100 people, and the senators stayed until the end to listen to everyone who signed up to speak.

The forums continue on the North Shore on Feb. 23. You can click here for more information. If you are interested in getting involved in our advocacy efforts and attending future forums, contact Francisco Ramos at 617-275-2937 or at framos@hcfama.org.

The forum was also covered in the Worcester Telegram, including a great picture of Priscila testifying.

      -Priscila Espinosa and Megan Crow