The day after the U.S. House Trumpcare vote, Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus came home to Las Vegas. She had plenty to say about the rushed health care vote, and so did a few of her constituents. This was not the usual Friday in Downtown Las Vegas.
Rep. Titus held a press conference at her Las Vegas office Friday to break down what she witnessed in D.C. the previous day. She began with a simple explanation of why she voted against the American Health Care Act (AHCA, aka Trumpcare).
“We’ve had many calls to this office asking, ‘Please don’t take away our health care.’”- Rep. Dina Titus
She then handed the microphone over to constituents who are at risk of losing health care. Amy Vilela, whose daughter died at Centennial Hills Hospital due to the hospital’s denial of care, had a very clear message on AHCA: “This bill is inhumane.” I later asked her why she feels so strongly. “My fear is more families will have to feel the unimaginable pain we endured.”
At least 390,000 Nevadans stand to lose coverage if AHCA were to become law. For Vilela, “This is based on greed.” She expressed doubt that it’s meant to help consumers at all. “This bill, when you read it, is helping insurance companies increase their profit margins. They get to go back and remove any additional costs for covering people with pre-existing conditions.”
Justine Harrison is an aviation attorney in private practice. During the press conference, Harrison said she would have to shut down her business if AHCA were to become law. I later asked her why.
“I can not afford $31,000 for insurance premiums, not counting co-pays and deductibles. I have to be part of a pool where the risk is spread.” – Justine Harrison, Las Vegas
Harrison is a cancer survivor who would be affected by removal of protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. She doubted the high-risk pool offered by Senator Dean Heller (R) at the Reno town hall last month would help.
So did Rep. Titus. I asked her about Heller’s proposal and the high-risk pool proposal in the AHCA. Titus stated that the high-risk pool in AHCA is underfunded and unequipped to handle patients like Justine Harrison. “It’s like block grants. It never gives adequate resources. […] You wouldn’t get enough to start with.”
I then asked about Rep. Mark Amodei’s (R-Carson City) sudden change of heart on Trumpcare. Titus was frank. “I was surprised.” She explained how he took part in the same conversations the rest of the Nevada delegation had with Governor Brian Sandoval (R) over AHCA’s potential to blow a massive hole into the state budget.
Titus then brought it back home. “My district has 44,000 people who could lose health care coverage. […] It would be devastating.” She acknowledged, “[The White House is] going to put a lot of pressure on Republican Senators to get something done,” but urged Senator Heller to pay more attention to their constituents.
Justine Harrison had some advice for Heller as the Senate begins to deliberate health care. “Talk to your constituents. Make sure there are limits to policy premiums. There should not be discrimination on pre-existing conditions.”