Press Release

Maine Nurses Healthcare is a Human Right Tour in Portland Monday & Bangor Tuesday

Local stats show dire need for healthcare overhaul—11% of Cumberland County adults uninsured, 11% of adults unable to see a doctor due to cost

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, nurses and physicians will provide basic medical screenings and will be joined by local healthcare activists for a public town hall in Portland, October 14 as part a Health Care is a Human Right Campaign.


WHERE: First Parish Church 425 Congress Street Portland

WHEN: Monday, October 14, 2013

Health Screenings 3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Town Hall Meeting 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.


WHERE: Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow Street

WHEN: Tuesday, October 15 2013

Health Screenings 3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Town Hall Meeting 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.


Medical screenings and a town hall will also be held in Bangor on Tuesday, October 15 at the Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St.

The events are intended to remind communities that far too many patients still lack the care they need and that genuine, comprehensive reform remains needed. For Penobscot residents, according to various sources, 14 percent of the population is rated in poor or fair health, 18.6 percent of children live in poverty as a result of a decrease in access to healthcare and a worsening of health outcomes as a result.

Basic medical screenings provided by nurses and physicians begin at 3 p.m. to be followed by a public town hall meeting at 6:00 p.m. at which people will be encouraged to share their personal experiences. Discussion will also be held about what’s next on healthcare and our Health Care is a Human Right Campaign in Maine. Medicare for All is the best solution to the national and statewide healthcare emergency, and how to move forward on Medicare for All in Maine.

The Health Care is a Human Right Campaign is a call to step up the drive for guaranteed, universal, cost-effective health reform once and for all by expanding and updating Medicare to cover everyone regardless of age. This event is co-sponsored by Maine AllCare, Food and Medicine, the Eastern Maine Labor Council, the Maine AFL-CIO and the Maine People’s Alliance.

“Nurses are seeing first hand that the current health care system is not working and leaving many of patients in our communities without care,” said Cokie Giles, a Maine RN and co-president of the National Nurses Organizing Committee, an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of nurses.

“Many who are uninsured or underinsured are forced to seek treatment in emergency departments where often it is too late or they have no access to follow up care. This is the reason that we are working for reform that is universal, won’t bankrupt families or leave our patient’s fate up to the insurance companies,” said Giles.

Dr. Gavin Ducker, a family physician from Unity, is one of a growing number of physicians who agrees that access to necessary health care is a human right. “No-one chooses to be sick,” says Dr. Ducker. “Illness is not a choice so why should health care be a choice? If getting sick can happen to anyone then why is the right to be cared for during that illness not given to everyone?”


  • The percentage of adults with no health insurance is the highest on record, 17.3 percent of adults as of the third quarter of 2011. Three years ago, in the third quarter of 2008, only 14.4 percent of adults lacked health insurance. (Gallup, Politico, Nov. 11, 2011). By January 2012, the percentage of unemployed was up to 17.7 percent. (

  • Factoring out those 65 and over who are eligible for Medicare and young adults up to 26 now eligible to remain on their parent’s coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the numbers of uninsured are even higher. 19.9 percent of 26-64 year olds are uninsured, up from 18.1 percent in mid-2010.

  • The number getting health coverage from their employer continues to fall, now down to 44.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011 (Gallup, Politico, Nov.11, 2011).

  • Total number of uninsured Americans: 49.9 million in 2010, up from 49 million in 2009 (U.S. Census Bureau, CNN/Money, Sept. 13, 2011). An additional 29 million Americans were underinsured in 2009, up from 16 million in 2003, an increase of 80 percent (Health Affairs, September, 2011)

  • About half of unemployed and underemployed U.S. residents do not have health insurance and 56 percent are delaying necessary care because of concerns about cost. Among those who said that they or another family member have delayed medical care because they could not afford it: 63 percent skipped dental care or checkups; 46 percent skipped a recommended test of treatment; 40 percent did not fill a prescription; and 18 percent reported problems receiving mental health services. (NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation survey, Dec. 12, 2011)

  • Between 2003 and 2010, premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance increased by a nationwide average of 50 percent—62 percent of Americans now live in a state in which health insurance premiums equal 20 percent or more of median earning for adults younger than 65. In 2003, 13 states had annual premiums comprising less than 14 percent of the median income. In 2010, there were none. Average annual premiums for family coverage were $13,871, with the average annual employee share at $3,721 in 2010, up from $2,283 in 2003. (Commonwealth Fund, Washington Post, Nov. 16, 2011; San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 17, 2011)

  • Under a study of high-income countries, sicker adults in the U.S. stood out for having cost and access problems. More than one of four (27 percent) were unable to pay or encountered serious problems paying medical bills in the past year, compared with between 1 percent and 14 percent of adults in the other countries. In the U.S., 42 percent reported not visiting a doctor, not filling a prescription, or not getting recommended care. This is twice the rate for every other country but Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. (Commonwealth Fund, Nov. 9, 2011)

  • On life expectancy, between 2000 and 2007, more than 80 percent of U.S. counties fell in standing against the average of the 10 nations with the best life expectancies in the world. Some U.S. counties are more than 50 calendar years behind – meaning they have a life expectancy today that nations with the best health outcomes had in 1957. Five counties in Mississippi have the lowest life expectancies for women, all below 74.5 years, putting them behind Honduras, El Salvador, and Peru. Four of those counties have the lowest life expectancies for men, all below 67 years, behind Brazil, Latvia, and the Philippines. Nationwide, women fare more poorly than men. Women in 1,373 counties – about 40 percent of U.S. counties – fell more than five years behind the nations with the best life expectancies. Men in about half as many counties – 661 total – fell that far. Black men and women have lower life expectancies than white men and women in all counties. (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, June 15, 2011)

  • In a global survey of inequality in healthcare for children, the United States ranked just 22nd in material well-being for children, behind even economically struggling Greece. (Unicef study, December, 2010)

  • Between 2003 and 2007, the average maternal mortality rate – defined by deaths that occur within 42 days of childbirth – rose to 13 deaths per 100,000 live births, approximately double the low of 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births recorded in 1987. Today, the United States ranks 41st in the world for maternal mortality, one of the worst records among developed countries. "Near misses," complications so severe that a woman nearly dies, increased between 1998 and 2005 to become common – at one woman every 15 minutes. African-American women are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related death than white women. States in which poverty rates exceeded 18 percent had a 77 percent higher rate of maternal mortality than states with lower rates of poverty. Over the last seven years, federal spending for maternal and child health programs has been reduced by 10 percent. (Guardian, UK, July 5, 2011)

  •  Illness and medical bills are linked to 62 percent of all U.S. personal bankruptcies. The proportion of bankruptcies attributed to medical bills rose by nearly 50 percent between 2001 and 2007 (Physicians for a National Health Program, 2009).