Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mom and Purple Bus Kick-off Bandwagon Tour

PRNewswire/ -- Neighbors and friends are gathering June 28th to kick off an unusual bus tour. This bus isn't full of rock stars. It's Kathie McClure, her family and friends, and the Bandwagon Tour. They're driving across the country gathering stories and talking to people about America's health care system.

Kathie is an Atlanta mom and attorney who learned about the holes in our health care system the hard way. First, her son, Chris, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a genetic illness affecting one million children and adults in the U.S. Then, her daughter, Caitlin, was diagnosed with epilepsy after being hit in the head by a soccer goal. Diabetes and epilepsy are expensive illnesses, with the average annual cost of treatment for each ranging from $4,000 to $10,000.

When Chris and Caitlin entered their 20s, Kathie and her husband, Jay, found it was next to impossible for them to find affordable individual coverage. Most insurers don't offer individual policies to those with "pre-existing conditions" like diabetes and epilepsy, and if they do, most exclude coverage for the very services that are needed.

While they've managed to cover their children's exorbitant medical expenses, it got Kathie thinking -- How would they take care of their children if they earned the national median income of $50,000 a year? The answer is they couldn't. "No parent should have to choose between their kids' health and bankruptcy," said Kathie.

Then she got going. As her friend Mary Lynn tells it, "When Kathie gets mad, she gets active. Whether she's shepherding a family member through an illness or a client through a lawsuit against a Goliath company, she focuses her anger into a laser beam of energy."

Kathie decided that the best way she could make a difference was by telling her story, but she needed a soap-box. So Jay bought a little school bus on eBay and spent the last year fixing it up so Kathie could hit the road. That's how got started.

Kathie starts her "Bandwagon Tour" on July 3rd. She'll be traveling up and down the country through October, talking to everyday people, community groups, health professionals, and policy experts. Along the way, she'll be asking people to sign a pledge to "Vote Healthcare" -- a pledge that gives citizens the chance to say why health care matters to them.

Her goal to collect one million pledges is ambitious. But as Kathie points out, "If you're going to spend months sleeping on a futon in a little bus without a sink, shower or flushing toilet, you might as well shoot for the stars." is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes quality, affordable healthcare for all U.S. residents through citizen education and a voter registration campaign.

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