Columbia St. Mary’s will lead events in southeastern Wisconsin to call attention to the issues facing Americans without health insurance as part of a national campaign, Cover the Uninsured Week, May 10–16. The week is sponsored by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other funders, along with more than 800 organizations throughout the country.
Former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter again are serving as national honorary co-chairs of this nonpartisan campaign, and actor Noah Wyle of NBC’s “ER” is serving as the national spokesperson for the week.
A slow economy, high unemployment, and rising insurance premiums mean that more Americans are without health insurance. Uninsured Americans represent every race, age, and ethnic group. Uninsured Americans live sicker and die younger because they’re forced to go without health care. Eight of 10 Americans who are uninsured are in working families.
Cover the Uninsured Week is intended to sensitize opinion leaders and the public to the plight of more than 44 million Americans—including 8.5 million children—who lack health insurance, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The number of people without health insurance increased by more than 2 million last year.
In Wisconsin, an estimated 352,000 residents were uninsured during part of 2002, and 203,000 had no insurance coverage in 2002. The proportion without health insurance coverage for the entire year was higher among Hispanic residents than among non-Hispanic white people or people of two or more races. It was also higher among poor residents (11%) than among near-poor (6%) and non-poor (2%) residents.*
"In addition to providing care to all who come through our doors, Columbia St. Mary's sees our role as increasing awareness among community leaders about the magnitude and implications of this growing problem," said Leo P. Brideau, President & CEO of Columbia St. Mary's. "Columbia St. Mary's sees itself as a piece of the solution. Ultimately, solving this problem will require the efforts of the entire local, statewide, and national community."
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle will sign a proclamation recognizing the urgency of seeking solutions to one of America’s greatest health problems—Americans without health insurance. Other area officials, including Mequon Mayor Christine Neurenberg, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, are expected to sign local proclamations as well.
Columbia St. Mary’s will sponsor many activities during Cover the Uninsured Week:
Monday, May 10—Mayor Tom Barrett will sign a Proclamation between 10:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the Italian Community Center.
Tuesday, May 11—Columbia St. Mary’s will raise awareness of the uninsured through presentations for employees at its Milwaukee, Columbia, and Ozaukee Campuses.
Wednesday, May 12—Tom May, PhD, will present “Bioethics, Social Justice, and the Uninsured” from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, 225 W. Vine St., Milwaukee. Dr. May will discuss access to health care for Americans without health insurance from a social justice perspective. Dr. May is Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Bioethics at the Center for the Study of Bioethics, Medical College of Wisconsin. Following Dr. May’s presentation, panels of health care executives and academic leaders will discuss the question of access to health care as a matter of social justice.
Health Care Executive Panel
Academic Leader Panel
The program will conclude with an open forum for questions and a short reception. This program is sponsored by Columbia St. Mary’s in conjunction with Partnerships for Healthy Milwaukee, and IMPACT, Inc. No RSVP is required.
Thursday, May 13—Interfaith Prayer Breakfast—Religious leaders, legislators, politicians, and business leaders have been invited to learn about resources available for people without health insurance. Keynote speaker Fr. John Celichowski will present “A Trinity of Healing: Health Care as a Business, a Ministry, and a Human Right.” The breakfast will be held from 7:30 to 10 a.m. at the Manchester East Hotel in Glendale.
Representatives of faith-based community programs will discuss the services they provide to the community, and participants will discuss experiences related to uninsured people within their communities and available resources. Archbishop Timothy Dolan will conduct the invocation, followed by a welcome from Leo P. Brideau, President & CEO of Columbia St. Mary’s. Rabbi Leonard Lewy, Milwaukee Jewish Chaplaincy, and Janan Najeeb, Director of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, also will attend the breakfast.
Bill Solberg, Director of Community Services at Columbia St. Mary’s, will present “Health Access 101–An Opportunity to Educate Members of Your Congregation.” All attendees will receive a community resource guide for people without health insurance developed by IMPACT, Inc.
Thursday, May 13—“Policymakers and Health: Mobilizing Support for the General Assistance Medical Program” is the topic of a Townhall Meeting to raise awareness of the issues facing people without health insurance. The program will take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the UWM School of Continuing Education, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Invited guests include representatives of local health care networks, colleges and universities, business leaders, state and local politicians, and physicians. Helene Nelson, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, will be among the guests.
Friday, May 14—Foundation Breakfast— Leaders of charitable foundations in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties will learn about a proposal for a collaborative primary care clinic in Milwaukee’s inner city. Bill Bazan, Vice President, Metro Milwaukee, Wisconsin Hospital Association, will introduce the proposal, which was developed by the Primary Care Initiative Coalition. The coalition is comprised of five health care systems in Milwaukee County and four Federally Qualified Health Centers. The proposal has been submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Saturday, May 15—Free Clinic for the Uninsured, Columbia St. Mary’s, 1121 E. North Ave. Patients who visit the clinic during regular hours (8 a.m. to noon) will be able to access the “How’s Your Health Greater Milwaukee” website that gives consumers health information and an action form to take to their physician. Staff also will assist patients with information and enrollment in various health insurance programs. (The Ralph Huiras Family Ozaukee Community Health Clinic at Columbia St. Mary’s provides free care for uninsured and underinsured patients in Ozaukee County.)
For more information on these events, call Eileen Jaskolski, Vice President of Mission Integration, Columbia St. Mary’s, at 414-326-2657.