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Texas Teacher Dies After She Can't Afford Her Co-Pay

A teacher in Texas has died from the flu after she couldn't afford the enormous co-pay for her medicine, a benefit many union teachers take for granted

Kris LaGrange's picture
Feb 14, 2018

Here at UCOMM we often talk about the advantages of being union. Things like higher wages, pensions, and job security are often brought up as reasons that you should join a union. In Right to Work states, these benefits are not as strong, even for union members. A great example of this is a teacher in Texas who recently died from the flu after not being able to afford her co-pay for the life saving medicine.

Heather Holland was a 38-year-old second-grade teacher in Weatherford Texas. After she came down with the flu, she went to the pharmacy to pick up her Tamiflu prescription. At the pharmacy, she was told that she had a $116 copay. Unable to afford it, she decided to wait. A few days later, as her flu worsened, her husband paid the enormous co-pay, but it was too late. Holland’s kidneys had failed, and she was dead just hours later. The mother of two died simply because the cost of her life-saving medicine was too high.

 In a strong union state, public employees would be a $5 co-pay for most prescription drugs. This is thanks to the strong union contract that unions like CSEA and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) have bargained for. These unions are strong, thanks to their members being active and paying dues, giving them leverage over their employers as well as in negotiations with health insurance providers.

Supreme Court cases like Janus v AFSCME and legislation like Right to Work, seek to weaken this negotiating power and make the entire country like Texas. By weakening unions bargaining power, they are literally putting teachers lives and the lives of other public sector workers at risk.

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