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"I've had MS for ten years. And my kind is progressive. So I just get worse. I really can't do anything. I don't leave my house. You know, it's hard for me to get out. There's steps in the back. My kids, they're young and they really help me. But it's hard for them. Noelle, she turned two when they said I had MS." - Alicia Facchino

Alicia suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and is uninsured. She has two children (ages 10 & 12) who take care of her at home. She is confined to a wheelchair and can't afford home care.

"I had my heart transplant in '91. Medicare paid me for my operation on my heart and, also paid for one year of my medication. And after that one year, I was on my own to get, medication."

- Tom Giardina


Tom is a decorated war veteran of WWII. Nine years ago, when he was 66 years of age, he had a heart transplant. Medicare covered the transplant and paid for the first year of medications. Neither his supplementary insurance nor Medicare covered any of the medications after the first year. He has struggled to pay for the medications since then and is now no longer able to pay for them. Tom feels he served his country and wants to know -- why isn't it taking care of him?


"The ideal would be the chart I was handed when I first started working that said, 'If, you get sick, we're gonna pay this and we're gonna respond quickly and we're a wonderful company that has cradled you in our arms and whatever happens, we'll take care of it." - Noni Gilbert


The Gilberts' daughter is 13 years old and is finishing a 2 and 1/2-year protocol for the successful treatment of leukemia. The insurer paid most of the bills but refused some when prior authorizations weren't properly secured. The family argues that many times during her lengthy treatment there wasn't time to get the authorization, such as when she was admitted to the hospital with high fever. They are currently being contacted by some debt collection agencies and have had their credit rating significantly lowered. They feel they must take time off from work so they can try to resolve the issues with their insurance carrier. Though most of the bills were eventually paid, the process was a year-long ordeal of referrals and forms.


"Now it's all HMOs because that's what everybody can afford. You can't afford total coverage, no matter where you go."- Charlie Nielsen



Richard is the owner of the B & M Machine Company. To provide health insurance for his employees, he has joined a leasing program but still has difficulty offering the coverage and remaining competitive. Charlie has worked at B &M Machine Company for 42 years and has seen a lot of change in the way employers provide health care coverage.



"Sometimes we do share drugs because I can't get the samples or it's just too costly, but he's gone as long as a month without medication."- Dottie Maretto



Val, a retired truck driver, has diabetes. His wife Dottie has high blood pressure. They can't afford their medications and often take less than the full dose or just go without. They don't want charity but do feel there should be some sort of subsidy for people like themselves in the middle-class.


"If she had kept regular Medicare, she would have been able to get at least six weeks of service if the visiting nurse had deemed it so…the HMO…they're saying, 'no, she doesn't need it."
- Grace Hixon

Carrie has had serious health problems (congestive heart trouble, pneumonia, tracheotomy) and her adult daughter Grace has tried to care for her. It's difficult since she works full time and has children. Neither Grace nor Carrie want Carrie to live in a nursing home. In addition, Carrie has a few thousand dollars saved and doesn't want to lose her home or her savings to become eligible for Medicaid. Grace feels that her mother's biggest mistake was switching from traditional Medicare to a Medicare HMO.


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