Social Justice

Change Makers: Together We Will Nevada’s Eileen Eady Talks Health Care

Since the 2016 election, Eileen Eady has taken a leadership role in Nevada’s progressive activist world. If you’ve seen events around Las Vegas, you’ve probably seen her and fellow activists at Together We Will Nevada. We caught up with her earlier this month, right outside Senator Dean Heller’s (R) Las Vegas office, to talk about how she got involved and why she’s currently organizing to stop Trumpcare.

How Eileen got her start

Eileen Eady was part of the Pantsuit Nation network of Hillary Clinton supporters who decided to stay involved after Clinton’s election loss. As Pantsuit Nation activists began to go their separate ways, Eady founded Together We Will Nevada (part of the national Together We Will progressive activist network) as a way to keep activists connected. “I knew I wanted to connect the progressive organizations. We were the first organization listed on the Indivisible guide.”

From there, Eady has become a key figure among progressive activists… And a frequent visitor to Senator Dean Heller’s Las Vegas office.

“If this [Trumpcare] bill passes, and they take out protections for preexisting conditions, my family could lose coverage.”
– Eileen Eady

Eady organizes on a number of issues. But when it comes to health care, Congress’ debate on Trumpcare hits home. “I remember life before the Affordable Care Act [ACA]. […] My doctor told me it was easier for me to get medicine from the emergency room than to get a standard prescription.”

Eady and her sons have had mental health struggles in the past, and Eady’s husband has chronic high blood pressure. All qualify as pre-existing conditions, and the latest version of Trumpcare would allow insurers to deny coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions.

Eady then noted how Trumpcare removes the ACA’s mental health parity rule that guarantees insurance coverage for mental health care and substance abuse treatment. And despite Senate Republicans adding some money for opioid abuse treatment, Trumpcare’s Medicaid cuts would further reduce access to mental health care (including opioid abuse treatment programs).

“We don’t need to take mental health and put a stigma back on it.”
– Eileen Eady

 

Late last month, Senator Dean Heller indicated that the Trumpcare bill’s Medicaid cuts and removal of consumer insurance protections were deal-breakers for him. Though Eady was encouraged by Heller’s words, she wanted to see action to back up his words.

What made it harder for Eady to trust Heller was his growing habit of hiding from constituents. “Our access to him is very limited. I don’t think it should be that way. We shouldn’t have to sit across the street. We shouldn’t be treated like intruders.” Like other Nevadans, Eady has had a hard time getting Heller and his staff to listen to her concerns.

Heller waffles on Trumpcare again

After we spoke with Eady, Senate Republicans revealed their latest version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA, or Trumpcare). The new bill closely resembles the previous version, as it still includes severe cuts to Medicaid programs, Planned Parenthood health care services, and consumer insurance protections.

Earlier today, Axios’ Mike Allen reported that Republican leaders are confident Heller will somehow be “bought off” to support Trumpcare next week. As of the time of publication, neither Senator Heller nor his staff have responded to this claim. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is still trying to secure a full Senate vote on Trumpcare before August recess, which means we’ll probably see much more of Eileen Eady and other health care activists continuing their efforts to defeat this bill.

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