I just didn’t really get it all that much until toward the end of my tenure at CIGNA. . . . It really took a trip back home to Tennessee for me to see exactly what is happening to so many Americans. In July of 2007 I went home, to visit relatives. And I picked up a local newspaper and I saw that a health care fair was being held a few miles up the road in Wise, Virginia. I was intrigued and drove to the fair which was held at the Wise County Fairground. . . . It was raining that day, and I walked through the fairground gates. And I didn’t know what to expect. I just assumed that it would be, you know, like a health fair – booths set up and people just getting their blood pressure checked and things like that.
But what I saw were doctors who were set up to provide care in animal stalls. Or they’d erected tents, to care for people. I mean, there was no privacy. In some cases people were being treated on gurneys, on rain-soaked pavement.
And I saw people lined up, standing in line or sitting in these long, long lines, waiting to get care. People drove from South Carolina and Georgia, and Kentucky, Tennessee – all over the region, because they knew this was being done.
It was absolutely stunning. It was like being hit by lightning. It was almost – what country am I in? It just didn’t seem to be a possibility that I was in the United States.