About 400 nurses will descend on Market Square downtown Thursday afternoon to educate people about the Affordable Care Act - each with their own story.
Michelle Boyle, a nurse at Allegheny General, believes her mother-in-law would still be alive if the Affordable Care Act had been enacted sooner.
“My mother-in-law, she was 58, and she lost her job, she lost her health insurance, and a year later, she lost her life because she kept on being denied because she had pre-existing conditions,” Boyle said.
She said as a nurse, she has realized that many people don’t know they are eligible for healthcare - and the goal of this event is to inform them.
"We don’t have millions of dollars to spend on commercials and that sort of thing,” Boyle said. “So I think going into a busy place at a busy time of day is one of the best ways to help get the word out.”
The nurses, elected officials and activists will then scatter across Pittsburgh to inform and sign up people for affordable healthcare.
The nurses will perform free health screenings at the farmers’ market in Market Square.
“The more people that have health insurance - we have healthier families, healthier communities, healthier cities,” Boyle said. “And that’s how you thrive, you don’t thrive when people are sick and afraid to see the doctor.”
The nurses are also planning to promote Medicaid expansion.
The Corbett administration recently proposed Medicaid reform using federal dollars to subsidize private health insurance for low-income Pennsylvanians - but not an expansion.
Boyle said many people are still falling through the cracks - especially those who have disabilities and senior citizens - and an expansion would help the population’s most vulnerable.
She said there is nothing more important to nurses than ensuring people have healthcare.
“We’ve been there at the bedsides when people who have insurance are trying to choose between whether the husband getting chemotherapy or the wife being able to keep her transplanted organ because they can’t afford the medications for both,” Boyle said. “They can’t afford the medications for anti-rejection, they need to choose either or - that doesn’t need to happen anymore.”