Joe was not famous. He did not write any books. He was never in the news. His footprint on this planet was small.

Joe could not work due to congestive heart failure. He had no health insurance. For two years I have been Joe’s lawyer trying to get him disability benefits and Medicaid.

On 8/11/17 Joe’s heart stopped beating. Cause of death will be listed as congestive heart failure, but that will not tell the truth. The real cause of death was lack of access to health care.

Joe had hypertension for years, which caused congestive heart failure, which eventually caused his heart to stop beating. Hypertension is a very manageable illness. With proper medical treatment, Joe could be alive, healthy and working.

The debate over access to health care is not academic. Millions of Americans are experiencing unnecessary suffering today because they cannot afford to see a doctor or pay for their medicine. Each day many Americans die because their life threatening illnesses did not receive proper medical treatment.

These deaths are invisible. We don’t see them on the news. We don’t read about them in the newspaper. There is no statistic for – “died due to lack of access to health care”.

Recently Joe gave me permission to use his name in a letter to Senators Burr and Tillis as an example of constituents who are sick and uninsured. Each Senator sent me a polite reply explaining why he is trying to make 20 million more Americans uninsured.

As Joe now sits with the angels, I think he is encouraging all of us to continue the fight to make access to health care a reality for all Americans. This is a good way to honor Joe.