Volunteers from three organizations – Tri-cities Citizens for Improved Health Care, Virginia Organizing and Tennessee Health Care Campaign – came together to plan two events this past weekend to address misinformation and confusion surrounding the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The two public forums, which took place in Bristol and Kingsport, each featured a panel discussion on Myths and Misconceptions About the New Health Care Law as well as a keynote speech by health insurance industry whistleblower and hometown hero, Wendell Potter (please see post on Potter in National Reform section). Panelists included Dr. Robin Feierabend (ETSU School of Medicine and Physicians for National Health Program), Tony Garr (Founding Executive Director of THCC) and Debby Smith (Board Member of Virginia Organizing). The two events, which were many months in the making, drew over two hundred participants from Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. (We even had some people make the trip from Alabama!)
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of many volunteers and local citizens, we were able to plan two very successful public education events. Very special thanks goes to Wendell Potter, who graciously accepted our invitation to work with us on such a project. Mr. Potter made a special trip back to his hometown to speak out about his experience working in the corporate health insurance industry and his new role as a consumer advocate, challenging the fear tactics and spin that have been created by special interests to confuse and frighten the public in order to block meaningful health care reform. His presentation was moving, informative and tremendously inspiring to all in attendance, but especially for the planning team which showed great courage and commitment through their work to make this all possible.