As part of their senior project, graduating seniors at GMU in the social work program joined forces with AARP to work on the project “Voices for Change: Project Healthcare.” Through having each student interview two older members of the community to discuss their struggles with health care and what they’d like to see result from the health insurance reform bill. What resulted were stories of older adults that had been affected by pre-existing conditions, problems with the Medicare Part D coverage gap, long term care issues, difficulty navigating the health care systems, and hopes that the health insurance reform bill will help (which it will).
At the culmination of their project was a press conference yesterday which featured students and AARP members who had participated in the project, officials from GMU, and Rep. Gerry Connolly who was there to listen to what the students had learned and speak about the health insurance reform bill. One of the interesting aspects of this press conference was that it featured to groups that arguably have the most to benefit from the bill -- college students who will be able to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan as they’re finishing school and looking for a job (a concept that got a lot of applause) and seniors who (among other things) will benefit from the closing of the donut hole.
What was also very interesting about this press conference was that it focused on some of the personal stories that the students collected during the semester. Since we‘ve heard a lot about the political side of the debate surrounding the new law, it‘s rewarding to hear directly for the public about how they‘ll be able to benefit from reform. In a conversation after the press conference, Rep. Gerry Connolly highlighted the personal stories. One of the things he said we could take away from the event, for instance, is the fact that “when you listen, everyone has a story about health care.” Whether those personal stories covered issues such as care giving, pre-existing conditions, having coverage rescinded, or not being able to afford health insurance, Gerry stressed that he’s heard from a variety of constituents about their horror stories with health insurance companies. That is why he was proud to support a piece of legislation that will help to address those issues.
With that in mind, here’s the video of Gerry speaking yesterday.