At Barack Obama's kick-off campaign event in Raleigh on Monday, the only other speaker was an unemployed nurse from Pittsboro, Pamella Cash-Roper, who highlighted what seven years of George W. Bush trickle-down economics have meant for blue-collar, pink-collar, and lower middle-class workers. The main message: Don't even think about getting sick in George Bush's America. (Details of Pamella Roper-Cash's remarks from IndyWeek.com)
Both Pamella, 54, and her husband Keith Cash, 58, who was an electrical technician at WakeMed, developed heart disease. Keith first. He needed heart surgery in 2000 and couldn't work. He lost his job and hence their company-paid health benefits; and though federal law guaranteed him extended health insurance for 18 months, they couldn't afford the $600 a month insurance payments on top of the $1,800 a month for his prescriptions.
Meanwhile, they were dropped by their disability insurance carrier, a decision they continue to dispute, so far, unsuccessfully. So they sold their house, moved to a smaller one and went without health insurance for two years until he became eligible for Medicare as a Social Security disability recipient.
Pamella continued to work as a home-health nurse/aide until 2005 when she, too, needed bypass surgery and also turned to disability payments.
Today, she said, the two live on combined disability payments of $1,164 a month. Each takes about 15 kinds of medicine paid for by a state prescription-subsidy plan enacted during the Easley administration and paid for from tobacco-settlement funds funneled through the Health & Wellness Trust Fund.
It cuts their costs to between $2 and $4 a month for each prescription, she said. "If that had not been implemented," she said, "we'd probably both be dead."
Pamella told NPR's "Morning Edition" "We were lower middle-class. Now we're not even lower middle-class, I'm as low as it can get. When the price of milk and the price of gas are almost the same, we need to start looking at something."
Pamella Cash-Roper is a Republican and Will Vote for Obama
Apparently, that particular headline caused the NCGOP a little heartburn. First, the state party chair apparently tried to deny that she was even a Republican. She is. I've been gazing at her voter registration on the state Board of Elections website. Her husband Keith is registered Unaffiliated.
Look for the Obama campaign to use more Republicans in this way and for local and state Republican Party apparatuses to stamp their feet indignantly.