Three years ago, Steve Skvara won the admiration of many in the mainstream media by basically calling for taxpayers to foot his wife’s health insurance. Now he's ba-a-ack! No longer hailed by Chris Matthews or People's Weekly World, he still manages favorable, unquestioning coverage. Today's nwi.com Web site, which bills itself as "the largest and most trusted media company in northern Indiana," carries the article "Health care spark gets a checkup." Written by editorial page editor Doug Ross, the piece starts:
In December, Steve Skvara of Union Township was hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for 28 hours in hopes of a clean bill of health. He emerged with a bill for $96,000.
It was pleasant, he said, to have a waiter in a tux deliver his meal, but was that really necessary?
His experience is relevant because it was Skvara who lighted the fuse on the health care debate in which the nation is now embroiled.
It was on Aug. 7, 2007, that Skvara asked the seven Democratic presidential candidates what they would do to get health care to "the woman I love." Skvara explained that he lost much of his pension when LTV collapsed, and he was forced to sit across from his wife at the kitchen table, knowing he couldn't afford her health care.
Jane Pauley, one-time co-host of NBC's Today and Dateline NBC programs, is actively campaigning for Barack Obama. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote of one such appearance in Portage, Indiana that attracted only eight people. That event also featured Steve Skvara, the retired steelworker who in August of last year tearfully asked Democratic presidential candidates at a debate, "What's wrong with America? And what will you do to change it?"
It's only fair that I follow up by reporting that Pauley's current efforts are being met with much more enthusiasm. Maybe it's because she's now campaigning at Democratic headquarters and that's a more welcoming venue than the previously utilized union hall, difficult as it is to distinguish between the two. Perhaps the advance planning, blamed for her earlier poor turnout, was improved. Possibly it's because she lost Skvara, even though his admirers include MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who last year asked Skvara, "Well, can I pay tribute—can I pay tribute to you, sir?"
There's a heartwarming story in today's Times of Northwest Indiana. Jane Pauley, one-time co-host of NBC's Today and Dateline NBC programs, made an appearance yesterday for Barack Obama. Joining her was Steve Skvara, the retired steelworker who in August of last year tearfully asked Democratic presidential candidates at a debate, "What's wrong with America? And what will you do to change it?" The Times reported:
PORTAGE Former television news anchor and Hoosier native Jane Pauley returned to her professional roots Monday during a local appearance on behalf of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
Pauley, who said she worked for the state Democratic Party before launching her successful news career, took part in a panel discussion aimed at touting the benefits of Obama's economic plans for Hoosiers over that of his Republican challenger John McCain.
Retired steelworker Steve Skvara tugged at the heartstrings of liberals everywhere when he asked Democratic presidential candidates at an August debate sponsored by the AFL-CIO, "What's wrong with America? And what will you do to change it?" The underlying premise of his question, that something's wrong with this nation because taxpayers aren't picking up the tab for his spouse's health insurance, made him an instant celebrity in certain circles.
Chris Matthews invited Mr. Skvara to his MSNBC Hardball program and told him, "You're a great American to speak so well to the needs of this country." Matthews later fawned, ""Well, can I pay tribute — can I pay tribute to you, sir?" The CBS Evening News described Skvara's query as a time when "a moment of truth breaks through a political campaign event." Since his debut, Mr. Skvara's popped up in the media numerous times, including Oprah Winfrey's show.
Tremendously exaggerating the number of Americans who lack access to health insurance, CBS on Wednesday night trumpeted the cause of an AFL-CIO member who denounced the United States for not providing health insurance coverage for his wife and endorsed the John Edwards plan for universal health care. Anchor Katie Couric previewed the upcoming story: “Presidential candidates hear a dramatic plea for help from one of the millions of Americans with no health insurance and no way to pay for it.” Setting up the tribute to the retiree, Couric asserted that “45 million Americans have no coverage. That includes more than 13 million between the ages of 19 and 29. Many of them don't get coverage from their jobs, and cannot afford to buy it on their own.” Of course, many can afford it and in that age range feel comfortable without insurance. In fact, 17 million of the uninsured earn more than $50,000. Removing those, plus people who are not U.S. citizens, leaves fewer than ten million chronically uninsured.
Reporter Michelle Miller began her CBS Evening News piece by championing how “every once in a while, a moment of truth breaks through a political campaign event. That happened last night when a 60-year-old retired steel worker from Union Township, Indiana, asked a question.” Viewers then saw a clip of Steve Skvara from the AFL-CIO debate shown Tuesday night on MSNBC: “Every day of my life, I sit at the kitchen table across from the woman who devoted 36 years of her life to my family, and I can't afford to pay for her health care. What's wrong with America? And what will you do to change it?” Miller explained that “Skvara says he got the answer he was looking for from his favorite candidate, John Edwards,” who proclaimed: “And we ought to have universal health care in this country!” Skvara agreed: “We need a national health care plan.” Miller wondered: “Now the question is whether a moment in a debate will be the moment that motivates reform.”