Social Justice

Health Care Activists Denounce Dean Heller and Trumpcare at Las Vegas Town Hall

Though the U.S. Senate narrowly rejected Trumpcare last week, the national health care debate continues to play out in Nevada. Last night, nationally renowned social justice activist Sister Simone Campbell and the Save My Care bus stopped in Las Vegas. They listened to Nevadans’ health care stories, and these Nevadans asked U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R) to listen to them on Trumpcare.

“Health care is essential for all of us to live in dignity.”
– Sister Simone Campbell

Sister Simone Campbell is no stranger to buses. Five years after she launched the first “Nuns on the Bus” tour, Sister Simone Campbell is back on the bus to denounce Republican efforts to deny Americans the health care they need. She spoke with us as she was preparing to moderate Save My Care’s town hall near UNLV.

Campbell called on Congress to drop partisan efforts to pass any version of Trumpcare. “Since Trumpcare, or whatever we want to call this thing, failed in the Senate, people are waking up to the fact that people need to work together.”

We then spoke with two Nevadans who want Senator Heller to understand this very message.

“I’m a health care voter, and I won’t forget that Dean Heller voted to take away my care.”
– Joe Merlino, Las Vegas
Photo by Andrew Davey

Joe Merlino was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. He underwent surgery in 2013, but later lost his job… and his health insurance. Merlino then qualified for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion in 2014, which covered the additional surgeries and treatment he needed. For Merlino, “[Medicaid] eventually got me back on the road to work again.”

 

Merlino was stark in describing the personal stakes of Trumpcare proposals to cut Medicaid: “If [Medicaid] is gone, so will I. […] This very well is a fight for life.”

Merlino didn’t hold back in denouncing Senator Dean Heller’s many Trumpcare flip-flops. “He said he would vote no, and he voted yes. […] He’s just trying to find another way to worm out of what he said he would do.”

“Anything that takes medical insurance away from people is not a good idea.”
– Chandra Moore, Las Vegas
Photo by Andrew Davey

Chandra Moore has a unique perspective as someone who works in the healthcare field, and as someone whose own family has had health care struggles. Moore’s two grandchildren were diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). They received the care they needed thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.

Moore also called out Senator Heller’s various health care positions, including his latest gambit in signing onto Senators Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) and Bill Cassidy’s (R-Louisiana) proposal to convert Medicaid expansion to a block grant program. “I’ve worked with block grants in my lifetime. I know the Legislature can divert block grant funds any way they want to.”

“Giving health care to all is a pro-life stance.”
– Sister Simone Campbell
Photo by Andrew Davey

During the town hall, Campbell guided a series of discussions on how America can improve its health care system. Attendees pitched proposals to improve rural health care access, encourage transparency in pricing, and address aspiring healthcare professionals’ student debt. None of these ideas were in any of the Trumpcare proposals Senator Heller voted on last week.

Sister Simone Campbell and local health care advocates hold a health care town hall in Las Vegas. They talk about what's wrong with the Trumpcare proposals… And what's actually the right thing to do on health care.

Posted by Nevada Forward on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The U.S. Senate narrowly voted to reject Trumpcare last Thursday night, though Heller voted for the final “skinny repeal” bill. Senate Republican leaders have suggested they’re ready to move on after defeat, though Heller’s recent actions and Donald Trump’s ongoing threats to blow up the insurance markets suggest Trumpcare may reemerge yet again when Congress returns from August recess.

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