What gives you hope for our future? Nevada Town Halls with Sister Simone Campbell

What gives you hope for our future?

That’s what Sister Simone Campbell asked health care town hall attendees this week when the Drive for Our Lives bus stopped in Reno and Las Vegas.

On Monday, we headed to the Battle Born State from Sacramento for a town hall with folks from Reno. At the town hall, participants offered some great ideas on how we can work together to improve our health care system.

From there, we traveled south to Las Vegas for another town hall event on Tuesday.

In Las Vegas, we celebrated Medicaid’s 52nd birthday — and Nevadans told Senator Dean Heller to keep his hands off of their care.

We also met Joe in Las Vegas, who stood up in front of our town and shared his story.

“In 2009, at the age of 44, my voice began to change. A doctor told me I had a strained vocal chord at the time and then just sent me home. But seven months later, my voice continued to get worse. My plan was to get a second opinion, but I lost my job suddenly and was left without insurance. I finally found a job in early 2011 and my insurance kicked in a couple of months later.

My first priority, obviously, was to seek medical advice about why my strained vocal chord hadn’t gotten any better. The new doctor did a lot of extensive tests on me and, believe it or not, on a Sunday morning, the doctor called me at home to give me life changing news: I had a two centimeter mass in my larynx. That sent my life into a tailspin of specialists—all telling me that the only cure was to remove my entire larynx.

This just wasn’t an option for me. I like to talk too much. It wasn’t until mid-2013 that I was referred to a doctor who was determined to save my voice with an expensive 12 hour procedure that cost over $210,000. Because I had insurance, I luckily only had to pay $3,500 of that.

However, I required several more procedures as well as numerous doctor visits, tests, and scans over the course of two years, not to mention I was living with a tracheostomy; therefore I was unable to immediately return to work. In February of 2014, my company notified me that they could no longer pay for my health insurance. I immediately turned to the Affordable Care Act for help.

Because my disability pay through work was below the poverty level, I qualified for Medicaid. I was so unfamiliar with how Medicaid worked that my first was question was, “How much does it cost?” And the answer? Nothing. You can’t imagine what a relief that was at that point. I was informed that had I applied just two months earlier, pre-ACA Medicaid expansion, I would have been rejected because of my age, my sex, and the fact that I had no children under 18 years of age.

After two years and four months out of work, I was finally able to return to my job. To me, that was priceless.

I am a health care voter. I will not forget how Senator Dean Heller and so many other Republicans voted to rip apart the Affordable Care Act, and how they continue to try to defund Medicaid. To do this for the sake of tax cuts is inhumane and immoral.

Medicaid and the ACA took this 40-something year old in the middle of his prime working years, a person who was shaken down by a devastating diagnosis, and brought him back from near death, to a 50-something year old functioning, working, tax paying American again.”

Don’t miss our next Drive for Our Lives stop. Find an event near you here.