by Callista DePauw
On Wednesday, August 23, the Minnesota Attorney General’s office held a
listening session “to hear the perspectives of community members about issues related to medical billing and access to healthcare.” After an introduction from Attorney General Keith Ellison, the speakers began.
As I listened, I realized that our experiences are not at all uncommon. The testimonies from our members reflected what was being shared. Many people are being billed incorrectly or otherwise impacted by the shortfalls of our healthcare system. Nurses, physicians, community members, and even a banker spoke about the harmful, greedy nature of the insurance companies and hospitals in charge.
It was impossible to miss the strong presence of the nurse’s union, MNA, the Minnesota Nurses Association. The physicians attempting to unionize and the unionized nurses all recognized the need for organizing to get a voice at the table. Several speakers stressed that the higher-ups who are determining what is medically necessary for patients are not at all medically trained.
Healthcare staff are speaking up and fighting back, including Dr. Rita Raverty, who was quoted in a New York Times article on June 1, and whose words were read by a pediatrician during the session. Their frustration, their pleas, their passion for what they do, it reminded me of us Hennepin County workers. They want to properly serve residents, just as we do every day. We should be keeping in mind the nurses, doctors, and support staff that are advocating for us and for themselves. Several speakers emphasized the importance of us advocating for ourselves as well, so that it can be easier to make change happen.
Grace Baltich, president of AFSCME Local 34 representing social services workers, eloquently testified to the plight many of us are going through with UMR. While many speakers focused on the shortfalls of provider care, Grace emphasized that insurance companies are lying to people and leaving us, the patients, on the hook for thousands of dollars that should be covered by our insurance.
We will continue our efforts to get the county to drop UMR and to provide us with affordable and quality healthcare. Let’s also stand in solidarity with our healthcare providers and advocate for better care, staffing, and a stronger voice in their workplaces. And lastly, let’s all tell the AG’s office about our experiences so they can help keep UMR in check and assist us. Their phone number is 651-296-3353. A community input form is available below.
For more help dealing with UMR, contact Alisa Johnson at email@example.com or Jennifer Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org in HR and CC President Ali Fuhrman at email@example.com.
Finally, thank you to our workers in Hennepin Health, NorthPoint, and Health and Human Services. You are employees being impacted as patients while also trying to deal with these problems in our healthcare system. We see you and we thank you for your tireless efforts.