Christine Stuart photo
A Hartford school bus driver said there’s been a lot of talk lately about how much universal health care will cost, but to her universal health care would be priceless.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 200 union organizers and health care advocates, the bus driver, Evelyn Vega, said the medicine she was prescribed following a mini-stroke was $600 a month. She said she was forced to make the decision to return to work before her doctor recommended because she could not afford the medicine, which her health insurance did not cover.

Majority Leader Chris Donovan (pictured), D-Meriden, said “Right now we’re paying $22 billion and we’re not getting universal health care.”

The legislature can’t pass health care reform fast enough for Vega, who has since dropped her $52 a week health insurance plan because it doesn’t cover the cost of her medication.

And Vega is not alone in her struggle for comprehensive health insurance. One of Vega’s colleagues has no insurance and frequents the emergency room for a chronic stomach condition that they treat with antibiotics. The $1,345 emergency room bill Maria Escobar brought with her to the Capitol was for one visit. She said each time she goes she waits 8 to 9 hours and is never told why she has this condition. She said they just give her the antibiotics and send her on her way.

There are an estimated 400,000 residents without insurance in the state and many more underinsured. Click here to read some of their stories.

AFL-CIO President John Olsen said “the cost of not doing it is costing us too much.” He said there are 100 legislators on record saying they support universal health care and “we have to hold them accountable.”

Earlier Wednesday morning the General Administration and Elections Committee passed the single-payer health care bill out of committee leaving it just one more hurdle to clear before it goes to the floor. Click here for a summary of the legislation.

Click here to read a policy brief about why it is affordable.

Senate Minority Leader Louis DeLuca, R-Woodbury, said Wednesday that the fiscal note attached to the single-payer health care concept “tells you its impossible.”

But advocates disagree. First, they say the bill was stripped of its funding mechanism before it was initially passed. Secondly the state already spends $22 billion on health care, which makes the $18 billion fiscal note look like a bargain.

DeLuca said the underfunding of Medicaid should be addressed first and the rest “will take a lot more study.”