- Posted by Guest Author
- On November 7, 2019
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By Barbara Berke
The imperative for healing is deep in all faith traditions, so it is no surprise that GBIO has consistently convened people to call for real reform in health care. On Monday night, GBIO brought 836 people who rose up to call for reforms in three areas:
1. Lowering the cost of prescription drugs
2. Eliminating out-of-network surprise billing
3. Increasing access to affordable health care and substance use disorder care.
Rabbi Dan Slipakoff and Imam Taalib Mahdee from Masjid Al-Qur’an opened the gathering with a prayer: “A section of the Psalms is known as the Songs of Ascent. Tonight, we sing songs of rising up. How truly blessed we are to arrive at this moment together – we are united, we are committed, and we are powerful. May the work we enter together lift up all those who are in need so that the sick can find healing, the weary find strength, and the troubled find calm.”
TI member Michael Rubenstein, a Co-Chair of GBIO’s healthcare campaign, rose up to introduce what GBIO wants from the Massachusetts legislature this year. While the Governor has proposed some important measures, Michael told the crowd the Governor’s proposal does not go far enough. Michael urged the elected officials present to pass even stronger measures this fall.
Laura Guggenheimer and Dru Greenwood (both leaders of TI’s work with GBIO) together with Anne Licciardello, TI’s Healthcare campaign leader, organized our strong showing at the event. Fifty-five people from Temple Israel attended and listened to stories told by GBIO members about the enormous strain of having to ration supplies of expensive drugs or the death of the family member who could not afford her asthma medicine in the face of other bills; of doing their homework to find “in-network” care providers but still being hit with big “out-of-network” surprise bills; and of a young rape victim suffering from PTSD and mental health issues being turned away from ERs and longer term care for lack of coverage and available beds.
The call to rise up did not fall on deaf ears. The elected officials present recognized the important role GBIO plays in making sure consumers voices are heard on Beacon Hill and, sharing their own family histories with poor mental health coverage, responded that they would fight with us for mental health parity. They noted that there would be proposals forthcoming in the Senate bill on making essential drugs – like insulin, epipens and asthma inhalers – more affordable and there will be more proposals to limit surprise out-of-network billing.
The meeting closed with new GBIO Co-Chair Beverly Williams from Bethel AME noting that industry forces will put pressure on the legislature to not do what we are asking. She made it clear that GBIO will rise to that challenge and organize our members into constituent district meetings to make sure our elected officials know our issues and get real health care reforms passed this year.
GBIO is ready to rise up again for healing.