On Thursday, December 17, Georgeanne Koehler will travel from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. with hundreds of holiday “health reform” cards and messages for members of Congress and an empty chair in memory of her brother who died from lack of health insurance.
Over the past 12 days, hundreds upon hundreds of people have sent Georgeanne messages and cards sharing their health care stories and voicing support for reform. Thursday’s trip to D.C. will include a press conference on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, to culminate Georgeanne’s “No More Empty Chairs” holiday health care reform campaign.
Before going door to door to the offices of our Congressional representatives, Georgeanne will stand on the Capitol steps and share her family’s story. She will stand beside an empty chair to symbolize the loss of her brother Billy and the loss of so many other American families this year because of our broken health care system. She will also share some of the heart-rending stories she’s received in cards and messages.
WHO: Georgeanne Kohler, Pennsylvania health care activists, Pennsylvania Health Access Coalition, Health Care for America NOW, and SEIU
WHAT: Reading of holiday cards and the sharing of Georgeanne Kohler’s story
WHEN: Thursday, December 17, 2009, 2:00pm
WHERE: East Side Steps of the U.S. Capitol – 1st St SE side
EXTRAS: Empty Chair, Hundreds of Holiday Health Care Wishes
As a direct result of our broken health care system, there will be tens of thousands of needlessly empty chairs at holiday dinner tables this year. One of those empty chairs belongs to Billy Koehler, brother of Georgeanne.
Billy could not afford to get his heart defibrillator battery changed, after he lost his job and his health care and, due to his pre-existing condition, no insurance company would pick him up. On March 7, 2009, he put his car in park at an intersection in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh and there, for want of a battery, his heart stopped and he died. He was on his way home from his new job – one that did not offer health insurance.
Georgeanne is fighting for health care reform with a strong public plan. She believes that, when it comes to something as basic as health care, we should make sure everyone is covered and that greed doesn’t come between people and the care they need to live. She is fighting so that others do not have to face the grief and pain her family is facing.
The Pennsylvania Health Access Network, along with Health Care for America NOW and the Service Employees International Union, SEIU Healthcare PA are supporting Georgeanne in her efforts. Click here to hear Georgeanne’s full story.