500 Strong in Pennsylvania Bringing Healthcare to the People

seiu-org-logoWhen SEIU members in Pennsylvania made a decision to make the Affordable Care Act a success in the Keystone state, they knew their main focus would need to be on door-knocking and reaching out to the community directly. And it was a good thing they did, as initial problems with theHealthcare.gov website made it difficult for many people to get information as the enrollment period began.

At its height, there were more than 500 SEIU members working full-time in Pennsylvania, visiting the houses of uninsured home care workers and other low income families who often were uninsured. They also passed out information at health fairs, farmers’ markets, and other public events in order to get folks started on the path to health care.

One of these SEIU members was Chris Sloat, a Licensed Practical Nurse from Wilkes-Barre. Sloat works at the Guardian Elder Care nursing home, and sees firsthand what a lack of health insurance can do to people coming into her facility.

“As a nurse, I see people with all sorts of conditions who could have been spared a lot of suffering if they’d had preventative care. People come in needing full-time care after suffering stokes in their 50’s.”


Chris spends countless hours going door to door and passing out information at public events in order to counter all the right-wing attacks that flood the state’s airwaves. “One day at the nursing home, most of the folks had their radios on and I counted six commercials in one hour that attacked the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “I can STILL remember the lines from those ads.”

Chris had dozens of conversations at people’s doors, when the first things out of their mouths would be “Obamacare? That terrible program?”. But after giving them the facts and having an honest conversation with them, they’d be grabbing the phone as she left in an attempt to sign up.

Chris Sloat not only was a champion for the Affordable Care Act this fall, but also personally benefitted from the law. Two of her children have been able to stay on their father’s health insurance plan because the Affordable Care Act mandates that children be allowed to stay on until they turn 26.

In addition, Chris previously had a somewhat high co-pay for her yearly mammograms, and at least once she had to forgo the procedure due to a money crunch. But thanks to the new law, Chris’s plan now offers free preventative care and she’ll never again have to worry about paying for potentially life-saving checkups like these.

This article was originally printed on SEIU on December 18, 2013.  Reprinted with permission.

Author: SEIU Communications

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.