September 8, 2008

Pittsfield Gathering Discusses Issues Related to Health Care


PITTSFIELD - One mother worried that neither of her adult sons has health insurance. One man talked about how his insurance costs rose to a level he could not afford when he decreased his work hours. An older woman questioned statements she receives from a health care plan she never signed up for.

More than a dozen people gathered Friday night at the First Universalist Church for a potluck supper and discussion about health care. Guest speaker Dan Koehler of Kennebec Valley Organization helped clear up the confusion surrounding access to health care, health care plans and issues.

KVO is a group consisting of congregations, unions, professional associations and community groups that recently created a declaration of health principles.

"A just society provides health care for its people," Koehler said. "The system, as it exists now, doesn't recognize that there are people without access to care. That is what we are working to change."

Koehler said that KVO is bringing people together to discuss these issues, get people talking, and find new leaders to take action.

He said the first step is to gather people, such as the group in Pittsfield Friday night, learn about their concerns, then work for change and hold public officials accountable. "Health care is at the top of KVO's agenda," he said.

For about two hours, the group heard and discussed the details of private health insurance, Dirigo Health and Choice, MaineCare, high- risk pools, health savings accounts and the effect of community ratings.

"This is the problem with health care today," Kathy Love of Pittsfield said. "It is so complicated. When you are 75 and trying to make these decisions, it is really difficult."

Koehler said the Pittsfield meeting was one of many set to gather people's health care stories, concerns and fears from more than 300 people. KVO drew up a list of principles and will hold a candidates forum in Fairfield on Sept. 28 to address the issues with the policyholders.

For more information on KVO, contact Koehler at 873-5844.

The First Universalist Church holds a community supper and discussion series on the first Friday of each month. The next event will focus on the separation of church and state.

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