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Kentuckians frustrated by the lack of affordable, high-quality, accessible health care are becoming more vocal about it.

“Sometimes I have to choose—my prescription medicine or food.”

“I had to wait eight months to get a CAT scan.”

“My insurance went from $99 a week to $1,000 a month.”

Throughout 2007, people across Kentucky gathered in church basements, firehouses, libraries, and other public venues to openly discuss their experiences with health care and envision a health system that works for all. KET’s new one-hour documentary Every Heartbeat Has a Voice: Kentuckians Speak Out About Health Care chronicles the comments of Kentuckians in seven communities that hosted public forums about health care.

The story begins in Maysville, where we see exactly how a community hosts forums like these and hear firsthand about the challenges and the successes.

Next we go to Smoketown, a predominantly African-American community in the heart of Louisville. We hear from health-care practitioners and patients at the free Harambee Clinic about issues they face—long waits for specialists, high co-payments, and prohibitively high prescription costs.

After Smoketown, we land in two different communities in Eastern Kentucky. In Clay County, we hear from citizens about ongoing problems with isolation and transportation. In Harlan County, we meet two determined women grappling with the stigma of mental illness.

In Murray, we learn about the hardships that small-business employers face when trying to provide health coverage for employees.

And from there we move to Berea, where we meet community advocates working for the creation of walkways and bikeways to support healthy lifestyles.

Every Heartbeat Has a Voice is a powerful reminder that health and health care are not abstract issues to be debated and then put aside when there is no easy solution. Real people—friends, family members, neighbors, and fellow citizens—are being affected adversely by the current health system. The many voices in the documentary invoke a resounding call to action to create a health system that works for all Kentuckians.

Be Well Kentucky The forums documented in the program were sponsored by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky in partnership with the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky. Their goals were to collect and synthesize the experiences of a diverse cross-section of Kentuckians to present to the Kentucky legislature and to plant the seed for further citizen engagement on the issue.

Every Heartbeat Has a Voice is a 2007 KET production, produced by Judy Flavell, Laura Crawford, and Duncan Hart. It is part of KET’s Be Well Kentucky initiative.