Thursday, June 22, 2017

Senator Mark Warner is fighting for Caroline and others like her

Thank you, Senator Mark Warner and the Arc of Virginia, for giving me the opportunity to share Caroline's story and talk about the crucial role Medicaid had played in her/our lives.  
Please call your Senators today. Everybody stands to lose with the terrible health care bill the Senate is voting on next week.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kicking off the #HandsOff Campaign on Capitol Hill -- May 24, 2017

I had the honor join advocates and members of Congress to speak out against Trump's budget proposal. What's at stake? Pretty much everything that American families care about.

Thank you Congresswoman Lee, Whip Hoyer, Leader Pelosi, Congressman Yarmuth, and the Center for American Progress for the opportunity to tell our story today.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Caroline's Medicaid story in the Guardian

I was given the opportunity to be interviewed by Mary O'Hara, the reporter who wrote this article about the impact of Trump's Administration on the most vulnerable Americans. The article includes Caroline's Medicaid story. As a society, we will need to keep fighting for each other against the threats of dangerous policy proposals.

News article below
For a link to the news aricle, please click HERE
America rose to defend healthcare. But Trump’s attack on the poor is not over
Mary O'Hara
Obamacare will be the law of the land for the “foreseeable future”, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, admitted in the aftermath of the abject failure of Donald Trump or the Republican party to “repeal or replace” Obama’s flagship Affordable Care Act (ACA) after seven years of bleating about it. The colossal and humiliating collapse of the proposalswas met with jubilation last Friday by millions of people, especially the poorest and disabled, who were in line to lose access to healthcare if the American Health Care Act had been successful.
Watching the events unfold I wondered: what if there had been a similar sudden downfall of the austerity programme in the UK in those early days when the dire warnings of the harm it would unleash were being shouted from the rooftops? How many people would not now be turning to food banks or battling to access social care if austerity had been stopped in its tracks? 
The political rollercoaster in the US as the new health bill failed to garner the necessary votes to be passed in the house (partly because rightwing hardliners wanted an even harsher version) was stunning. The debacle came against a backdrop of months of anxiety and fear at what would unfold if it were passed and, the closer the vote deadline got, the more it hit home how much ordinary citizens would suffer. Across the country, individuals and groups rose to oppose it, highlighting the potentially devastating consequences for access to reproductive health services and the disproportionate impact on low-income women and children. Disabled campaigners worked tirelessly to draw attention to the particular injustices they would face if the law passed. Last Wednesday, more than 50 disability rights activists were arrested in Washington DC for protesting against it. 
As longtime campaigner Bruce Darling from the disability rights organisation Adapt explained, many people risked being placed in institutions rather than supported in their own homes if proposed cuts of $880bn (£705bn) to Medicaid, the government-funded programme that assists the very poorest and disabled people, went ahead. “Disabled people will die,” Darling told me. 
Leading up to the healthcare vote I talked to people who were terrified about the impact of the new act. One of these was Marta Conner, a charity consultant from Virginia whose seven-year-old daughter, Caroline, has Rett syndrome, a neurological condition that severely limits her control over her body and means she needs round-the-clock care, expensive medication and specialist equipment. Conner was like many of those speaking out. She told me she felt “it was important to have our voices heard” because children like Caroline and millions more disabled and seriously ill people could lose a lifeline.
According to independent analysis from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the AHCA would have seen 24 million people lose health cover in the next decade – and sent insurance premiums for older people rocketing. And, just to rub salt in the wounds, it would have meant a doling out of tax breaks to the rich.
Nevertheless, despite the healthcare reprieve, if you are poor or disabled in the US right now, the fight for rights to support and quality care is far from over. For a start, the healthcare debate isn’t going to disappear: health insurance remains prohibitively expensive for many and even with the advances of Obamacare, it is not a universal system. 
But there are other reasons why complacency is not an option. The attack on the poorest is coming on multiple fronts. Trump’s “blueprint” budget, which was also published this month, is a source of widespread anxiety. It has been overshadowed somewhat by the healthcare issue, but with clear echoes of cuts in Britain, initiatives that help the most vulnerable could be decimated if Trump gets his way. 
In a similarly absurd vein to Tory claims of “compassionate Conservatism” while they slash budgets, preside over soaring levels of child poverty and pummel the NHS, Republicans have had the gall to argue that culling anti-poverty programmes such as after-school nutrition initiatives and Meals on Wheels are acts of compassion towards taxpayers. The question now is, can these radical proposals come crashing down as the healthcare bill did? For the sake of the most vulnerable, let’s hope so.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Medicaid Matters Press Conference with Senator Cory Booker (NJ)

Republicans pulled the plug on the House vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with their American Health Care Act (AHCA) bill (aka Trumpcare). This victory is the result of a widespread and tireless advocacy effort by the progressive community and impacted individuals. 

Two days ago, I was given the opportunity to speak at a press conference with Senator Booker (NJ) along with folks who depend on Medicaid (or have loved ones who do), as well as people who work with Medicaid recipients. This effort was led by the ProtectOurCare coalition. The Senator showed heartfelt compassion towards our needs and promised to fight hard for us. 

Senator Booker posted a video of our speeches on his social media to help get our stories out there and show the dangerous impact of Trumpcare

This is the Facebook version of my speech. If you'd like to see the comments, click on the title of the video below


And below is the YouTube version

Below are pictures and tweets about the event

Below is a Facebook version of the short highlights video of the press conference 

And below is the YouTube version

Senator Booker was gracious enough to take a selfie with me!
Senator Booker was gracious enough to take a selfie with me!

Friday, March 17, 2017

I testified at a hearing held by House Democrats on the impacts of the Republican ACA Repeal Bill

Yesterday, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer held a hearing with House Democrats on the GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Whip Hoyer invited me to testify about the importance of Medicaid for children with disabilities. House Republicans did not hold a hearing before the House Budget Committee passed the bill which is unconscionable and irresponsible.

Thank you Whip Hoyer, Congressman Pallone, Congressman Neal, Congressman Scott, Leader Pelosi, and the other Members of Congress for holding this important hearing and for inviting me to testify. What an honor it was to share the crucial role Medicaid has played in Caroline's life

You can click HERE to watch the live video Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer posted on his Facebook wall. My testimony is at the 1:40:00 mark. FYI--the Facebook version is better and you don't need a Facebook account to view the video. You can also watch the YouTube version below but you won't be able to see the speakers because the camera points at our backs.

Pictures from the hearing

Capitol Hill 

Whip Hoyer, Congressman Pallone, Congressman Neal, Congressman Scott, Leader Pelosi,
and the other Members of Congress 

 With Congressman Pallone, Congressman Lewis, Whip Hoyer, Congressman Scott

Dr. Sam Zager, me, Dr. Nitin Damle, Peter V. Berns, Dr. Samuel Ross

My testimony

More information about the hearing

Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05)
Rep. Frank Pallone, Ranking Member on the Energy & Commerce Committee (NJ-06)
Rep. Richard Neal, Ranking Member on the Ways & Means Committee (MA-01)
Rep. Bobby Scott, Ranking Member on the Education & the Workforce Committee (VA-03)
House Democrats

Economic and Coverage Implications
Doug Elmendorf, Dean, Harvard Kennedy School, Former Director of the Congressional Budget Office
Andy Slavitt, Former Acting Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mike Kreidler, Washington State Insurance Commissioner

Patient and Provider Perspectives
Dr. Nitin Damle, President, American College of Physicians
Peter V. Berns, Chief Executive Officer, The Arc
Dr. Samuel Ross, Executive Vice President, Bon Secours Health System, Inc.
Dr. Sam Zager, Patient Advocate
Marta Conner, Mother of a child with Rett Syndrome covered under Medicaid

UPDATE: Materials from the hearing (including my testimony) can be found on Democratic Whip Hoyer's website HERE