I’m writing this from a bus somewhere in West Virginia. It is raining lightly and the air is cold to the touch. We are heading towards an unknown place, or at least it is unknown to me.
I’m on this bus because four years ago I walked into a doctor’s office with a nagging cough and came out with a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. The Affordable Care Act m saved my life and I’m in remission today.
No one should have to live like this. Why do Americans pay more than any other country for our drugs?
In many ways, I am one of the lucky ones. Too many Americans have not been able to get the health care they desperately need. As we build momentum toward a day when every American has health care, Congress has a chance to improve our system now.
We need to reduce the cost of Affordable Care Act health insurance plans. Permanently.
We need to fill the Medicaid void. The poorest residents of states like Florida, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina deserve quality health care, even when conservative politicians prioritize praise from the right over the lives of their constituents.
We need to strengthen Medicare to finally include vision, dental care and hearing, because every part of the body needs access to health care.
We need to fully fund home and community services, so seniors and people with disabilities can stay at home if they want to rather than being forced to live in a facility due to lack of care options. residence.
We need to increase the Supplementary Security Income (SSI), so that the elderly and the disabled are not forced into abject poverty.
And finally, we must tackle the sky-high prescription drug costs in America and use the savings from Big Pharma’s obscene profit cuts to help pay for better healthcare for all.
My cancer was Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer caused by a failing immune system. My form of treatment, chemotherapy, took apart the defective parts. But it turns out that having an immune system is pretty important for humans. My oncologist prescribed a medicine, Neulasta, to help my immune system rebuild faster after treatment. This drug cost $ 13,000. My insurance wouldn’t cover it, so I left without. And I ended up with an infection, spent a week in the hospital and almost died.
No one should have to live like this. Why do Americans pay more than any other country for our drugs? In my case, the drug was built on discoveries that we as taxpayers have already paid for. Most of the major drugs are. Yet we pay over and over again, until too many Americans can no longer afford to pay more.
But now, Congress can act! They’re working on Build Back Better, a budget reconciliation bill that would include all of the priorities I’ve listed.
We just need our representatives to also have the will to vote for human infrastructure.
Every vote counts, as there are only 50 senators and 220 congressmen willing to consider voting for this bill. Sadly, Republicans refuse to listen to their constituents about the desperate need to improve our health care. So we’ll need every last Democrat vote to get this passed.
That’s why I took part in a nationwide bus tour of Protect Our Care, a non-profit organization focused on healthcare reform. I travel from coast to coast to share our stories and lobby our lawmakers to respond to their constituents about Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and other wealthy special interests. We started in Maine and four weeks later we will end in California and Nevada.
I put aside my summer to go on the road because it is so important. We have a once in a generation chance to rebuild our health care system, and we must not blow it up. Please contact your Senators and Representatives today and ask them to vote for the Build Back Better Bill with all health care provisions included, because care cannot wait and neither can we.