Steelworker Takes The Spotlight At Debate

Every once in a while, a moment of truth breaks through during a political campaign event.

It happened Tuesday night during the AFL-CIO debate when Steve Skvara, a 60-year-old retired steelworker from Union Township, Ind., asked a question to resounding applause:

"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?"

Skvara spent more than 30 years working at the LTV steel plant in East Chicago, Ind.

"At the time I worked there, it was a given that you had insurance benefits for the rest of your life," he tells CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

That was before the company went bankrupt. Suddenly, his financial future crumbled. He lost part of his pension and all of his health insurance.

Both Skvara and his wife, Sandy, suffer lingering injuries from a car accident a decade ago. Skvara also has a heart condition. While they can barely afford health insurance for him, Sandy has none at all – which prompted his rage at the debate.

"I think you're going to see everyone talking about health care," says political analyst Stuart Rothenberg. "The question is, is that how people make a decision in 2008? It's too early to know."

According to a recent CBS News/NY Times poll, after the war in Iraq, health care is the No. 1 concern for Americans.

There are now nearly 45 million Americans without health insurance.

Skvara says that he got the answer he was looking for from his favorite candidate, John Edwards.

"It was answered directly," he says. "We need a national health care plan."

Now the question remains whether a moment in a debate will be the moment that motivates reform.
  • Lindsay Goldwert

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter