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The Real Norma Rae Dies, After Having Cancer Treatment Delayed Because of Insurance Problems

  • Sep 16, 2009
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This is a great, encouraging, energizing movie, that is worth renting this weekend.  The occasion is the death of the real Norma Rae, Cyrstal Rae Sutton, who died a few days ago at the age of 68 from brain cancer.

A grass-roots union organizer, she did not receive timely treatment for the disease because of a dispute with her insurance company over coverage.  This fact was not mentioned in obits in The New York Times and elsewhere yesterday, but has begun to appear in longer stories about her life.  Truthout had the news this morning, but as  always when dealing with this kind of story, I went checking to see if I could find independent confirmation. This is the link to the obit on the website of The Institute for Southern Studies, an independent think tank based in Durham, N.C. 

As she told the Burlington N.C. Times-News last year: "How in the world can it take so long to find out [whether they would cover the medicine or not] when it could be a matter of life or death," she said. "It is almost like, in a way, committing murder."

And this happens in the US with people who have supposedly good insurance!  What are you guys waiting for? The longer you delay approving a reform of the health insurance system, the tougher it's going to do anything. 

On the same theme, check out this review from The New York Times of a new book by T. R. Reid, foreign correspondent for The Washington Post, The Healing of America.  Reid  had his sore shoulder examined around the world by doctors working in 10 countries.  No one agreed on what to do, and the cost of treatment offered varied from thousands of dollars to pennies.

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September 16, 2009
Those who oppose Obama's health bill fear that the government will set up "death panels' to kill granny. What a joke. "Death panels" have existed for quite some time and they've been presided over by the insurance companies and their decisions have been made in the name of profit. Thank you for citing your sources. So many people who quote things here have no idea where the material they are quoting can be found. The reason, I suspect,  is because they are getting it from Glenn Beck and company and have no idea where it came from before that, or if it exists at all for that matter.
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Ranked #91
Mary Soderstrom is a Montreal-based writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her new collection of short stories, Desire Lines: Stories of Love and Geography, will be published by Oberon Press in November, … more
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About this movie


Norma Rae is a 1979 film which tells the story of a woman from a small town in the Southern United States who becomes involved in the labor union activities at the textile factory where she works. It stars Sally Field, Beau Bridges, Ron Leibman, Pat Hingle, Barbara Baxley, Gail Strickland and Noble Willingham.

The movie was written by Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch, and was directed by Martin Ritt. It is based on the true story of Crystal Lee Sutton.

It won Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Sally Field) and Best Original Song (for David Shire and Norman Gimbel for "It Goes Like It Goes"). It was also nominated for Best Picture and for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. The film was also nominated to the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and Field was awarded Best Actress for her performance.

Norma Rae Webster is a minimum-wage worker in a cotton mill that has taken too much of a toll on the health of her family for her to ignore her Dickensian working conditions. After hearing a speech by New York union organizer Reuben Warshowsky, Norma Rae decides to join the effort to unionize her shop. This causes dissension at home when Norma Rae's husband Sonny assumes that her activism is a result of a romance between herself and Reuben. Despite the pressure brought to bear by Management, Norma Rae successfully orchestrates an election to unionize the factory, resulting in victory for the union and presumably ...

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