Nevadans Are Fighting Trumpcare

Nevada is a battleground state in the fight to protect healthcare—and Nevadans are rising up to demand that their lawmakers reject attempts to kick millions of Americans out of the health care system and slash funding for Medicaid.

Last week, Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada said he would not support legislation “that takes insurance away from tens of milions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans,” indicating that he would have voted no on the Senate’s Affordable Care Act repeal bill. Tuesday, union officials and community members gathered at a pedestrian bridge over the Las Vegas Strip to make sure Heller keeps his promise.

“We’re calling on Senator Heller to continue to be a no vote,” Rusty McAllister, executive secretary treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, said to the crowd at the rally. “We’re expecting him to step up to the plate and help us. He represents all Nevadans. He is and could be the deciding vote on whether or not this passes.”

If the Senate bill passes, Nevada’s Medicaid expansion program implemented through the Affordable Care Act would phase out starting in 2020. McAllister noted that the legislation would end healthcare protections for 150,000 Nevadans. “They’re going to give 700 billion dollars in tax breaks to corporations and big donors,” he said. “When working people have to choose between life saving treatments and putting food on the table, there’s something wrong with that. There’s something wrong with our system.”

“The Republican Senate is doing the most terrible thing to the most vulnerable people,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union, Local 226, at the rally. “We are the people. We got the power.” Throughout the rally, the crowd chanted “Heller, vote no” and “Healthcare is a human right—fight, fight, fight.”

A #WalkInMyShoes protest also took place on Tuesday at Sunset Park with the intent of communicating how different communities and individuals could be impacted by an ACA repeal. At the event, Nevadans completed activities meant to bring to life the difficulties that regular people, working people, low-income families, communities of colors and immigrants would have to go through to obtain health insurance if the Senate’s so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act became law.

“Every scenario has obstacles and these obstacles represent real life obstacles that someone would have to go through,” explained Amanda Khan, economic justice organizer for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. In one scenario, indicating the shame a young woman who is pregnant may be faced with, the obstacle was putting a ball in between your knees and walking through an obstacle course—representing the way a woman would feel when people told her she should’ve kept her “legs closed.”

“The event is helpful for people who want to know what happens when they are on expanded Medicaid,” said Laura Martin, associate director for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. Martin also shared how the bill would personally affect her as someone who has a pre-existing condition that would legally allow insurers to refuse to serve her under the BCRA.

“I was born with a heart murmur,” she told Ms. “I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Those are considered pre-existing conditions. I know what it’s like going to a doctor’s office and the doctor telling my mom ‘we’re not paying for this.’ That changed under Obamacare—you couldn’t pick and choose what you’re going to cover. There was no cap, there was no pre-exisiting condition discrimination… It’s going to affect everybody.”

 

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Meliss Arteaga studied at California State University Northridge and has a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minor in gender and women studies.