From insurance claims investigator to uninsured

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GLENDALE -- As the House and Senate prepare to negotiate the final health care legislation, an estimated 1.3 million Arizonans – 22 percent of the state population -- are uninsured and unable to afford health care.

“I would deal with people on the phone crying,” said Janice Blackmon.

Blackmon worked for the state of Arizona's insurance department, helping people with their health claims.

"And people who were turned down because they have pre-existing conditions -- that was a common case I'd have,” Blackmon said.

But when the state budget tanked, Janice and two dozen of her colleagues were laid off.

"We all were very dedicated,” she said. “We loved our jobs!"

Along with her job, Janice lost her health insurance, and can't afford to buy it on her own.

"Oh my God – COBRA costs are enormous,” she said.

With no insurance, in August Janice broke her wrist, and became one of the people she used to help. Thousands of dollars in medical bills soon piled up. Four months later, her wrist is still swollen.

"I can't afford physical therapy,” she explained.

So she's had to put off further treatment.

"Please come up with some health care plan that will help people like me!" she exclaimed.

Janice says she's encouraged by the Christmas Eve Senate vote, but knows help won't come quickly.

The new health care options won't be available until -- at the earliest -- 2013.

Arizona senators John McCain and Jon Kyl blasted Thursday’s health care vote. Kyl called it a historic mistake.