February 8, 2009

Whitehouse Asks Rhode Islanders to Share Health Care Stories

At Warwick Dinner, Senator Unveils New Online Campaign to Support Reform

Warwick, R.I. – As Congress and the Obama Administration embark on efforts to reform our broken health care system, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today launched a new online communications tool to get Rhode Islanders involved.

At a community dinner in Warwick this evening, Whitehouse unveiled his Health Care Storyboard, a new web page featuring personal stories from Rhode Islanders who have struggled to find affordable health insurance for themselves or their families, or who have found themselves tangled in our dysfunctional health care bureaucracy. The new web page is located on Whitehouse’s web site at whitehouse.senate.gov/storyboard.

“Over and over, at community dinners like these, at senior centers, and in letters from Rhode Islanders, I’ve seen the health care crisis hit home,” Whitehouse said. “This isn’t some abstract Washington problem – it’s hurting our families, our small businesses, and our economy, and the time to fix it has come.”

He encouraged those attending the dinner to send him their experiences and ideas about how to fix the system, to help build momentum for reform and help legislators in Washington understand the impact it would have on everyday people.

“I hope many people will log on to my web site, whitehouse.senate.gov/storyboard, to share their stories with me,” said Whitehouse. “With your help, we can make our health care system work better for everyone.”

Visitors to the Storyboard page can read comments on the health care system submitted by other Rhode Islanders, sign up to receive e-mail updates from Whitehouse about his work on health care reform, and send in their own stories about health care.

One of the first posts on the Storyboard comes from Deborah Bettencourt, who owns a small bookkeeping and tax preparation business in Warwick. Deborah, who introduced Whitehouse at the community dinner, spends over half her income just to have health insurance for herself and her husband, and though she wants to be able to provide health care coverage for her employees, she cannot afford the high costs. Whitehouse told Deborah’s story in a speech on the Senate floor last month.

President Obama has pledged to make affordable, accessible health care a reality for all Americans, and Congressional leaders are in the process of crafting major health care reform legislation. Just this week, President Obama signed legislation to strengthen the Children’s Health Insurance Program that will help 11 million children gain access to affordable health care.

Whitehouse has been an outspoken advocate for health care reform, authoring legislation that focuses on the advancement of health information technology, quality improvement that saves lives and money, prevention of illness, and reform of the reimbursement system.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921