A 45 year-old Canadian, self-employed, married mother of two, Shona Holmes makes an unlikely warrior in the battle over American health care. Yet, just last week, Holmes took on Democratic Representatives Frank Pallone (N.J.), John Dingell (Mich.), Diana DeGette (Colo.) and others as she testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, offering Americans this warning about the current Canadian health care system: “What started many years ago as a seemingly compassionate move in government to treat all equally and fairly by providing the same medical coverage for everyone has in fact turned into a nightmare of everyone suffering equally.”
Holmes’ story is a harrowing tale of government health care at its worst. After suffering from insomnia, increasingly painful headaches, and rapidly deteriorating vision, she was referred by her physician in Canada, to two specialists, a neurologist and an endocrinologist. Despite the gravity of her illness, Holmes was told the wait time was four months to see the neurologist and over six months to see the endocrinologist for a full diagnosis. Holmes took action and flew to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona where she was promptly and fully diagnosed with a brain tumor. Armed with proof of her dire condition, Holmes returned to Canada certain that she would receive the care promised to her by her government. But again, the wait for treatment would be several months. Time was running out for this mother. Left with no options, she and her husband mortgaged their home and she flew back to the Mayo Clinic where she was treated immediately. Her husband has now taken a second job and, as she told the Committee Tuesday, “we owe money to everyone we know.”
But, Holmes is alive and able to be the face of a recent ad by Patients United Now. A project of Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF), Patients United Now is one of the largest national grassroots efforts dedicated to “real” health care reform — reform that cuts bureaucratic waste and hassle, reestablishes the bond between patients and doctors, and keeps individuals in charge of their health care decisions.
The Shona Holmes ad, which was launched in May, has been shown in Washington, D.C., and 11 states, including Virginia, Nebraska, Montana and Arkansas. The ad can be seen on the website www.patientsunitednow.com, which also boasts over 60 individual health care stories. The experiences described range from travelers who found themselves in foreign hospitals with substandard care, to Americans who lived and worked abroad and know fully the nightmare of government-run health care, to uplifting stories of quality health care in America.
Patients United Now has also held dozens of successful grassroots events nationwide. Just in the past month, 500 people attended an event in Little Rock, Ark., 400 people were at a rally in Richmond, Va., and over 350 people participated in a rally in Lincoln, Neb.
As the health care debate heats up on Capitol Hill, Americans for Prosperity has launched a second wave of attack: Patients First. Working closely with conservative lawmakers on the Hill, Patients First has been actively involved in legislative efforts to keep American health care out of the vise grip of big government.
As a 501(c)4 organization, Patients First is able to target individual lawmakers by name in advertisements, encouraging constituents to put pressure on their senators and congressmen to oppose Obama’s health plan. Patients First will launch its new ad next week in 11 states, including Colorado, aimed at Sen. Michael Bennet, Louisiana, aimed at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and Nevada at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
On its website, www.joinpatientsfirst.com, Patients First asks visitors to sign a petition urging lawmakers to “oppose any legislation that would mean fewer choices for me and my family and even deny treatments to those in need.” Launched Tuesday morning, the petition had over 19,100 signatures by Thursday afternoon.
Conservatives hope that with well-coordinated groups like this in their corner, socialized medicine may remain just a glimmer in President Obama’s eye.
Additional information about Patients United Now can be found at www.patientsunitednow.com. For further information about Patients First, visit www.joinpatientsfirst.com, or call Americans for Prosperity at (202)349-5880.