On July 3rd, I had the awesome opportunity to meet and introduce Senator Bernie Sanders at his campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
I had a blast, it was amazing. This also just happened to have been my official coming out in support of Senator Bernie Sanders for President.
Bernie Sanders is serving his 2nd term in the U.S. Senate and he won his last election with 71%. Bernie has served 16 years in the U.S. House, and he is longest serving independent in our nation’s history.
Bernie Sanders served 4 terms as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont and he was first elected in 1981.
In the 60s, as a student and activist, Bernie was a frontline champion for equality. He was even arrested while protesting the segregation of schools, he organized against segregated housing in Chicago, and he marched on Washington, D.C. with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bernie Sanders is one of our nation’s most persistent voices defending the interests of the working class and standing up to the excesses of corporate America. He is also widely considered the most progressive member of the U.S. Senate.
I first became involved in politics in 2012, when I volunteered with the Iowa Democratic Party. Last year, I was elected Affirmative Action Chair for the Pottawattamie County Democrats.
As you all may be aware, I live with a very rare genetic disease called cystinosis. The disease causes the continuous cellular accumulation of the amino acid cystine to rise to toxic levels, resulting in irreversible tissue and organ damage if left untreated even for a short time. The disease damages all of my organs, especially my kidneys, eyes, muscles, thyroid, and brain.
Health insurance in the U.S. is confusing for most people, however it is especially difficult (even with the ACA) for people living with cystinosis, or any serious illness. Individuals like myself must be sure that our health insurance will answer all of these questions:
- Does the plan cover ALL your prescriptions (anti-rejection, Cystagon, Procysbi, Cystaran)?
- Are your medications (anti-rejection, Cystagon, Procysbi, Cystaran) on the “formulary” or must they be ordered through as specialty pharmacy? Will you have to pay out-of-pocket for specialty pharmacy orders?
- Is there a mail-order option?
- Does the plan permit you to see the providers you already have established relationships with and allow you to be hospitalized at the medical center of your choice?
- What does it cost to go “out-of-network”?
- For medications that may not be FDA approved, what will be the cost to you?
Living with cystinosis and dealing with doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and insurance has led me to be a supporter of the single-payer healthcare system, which Bernie stands for.
As you may be aware, I am a student at Iowa Western Community College, studying Psychology.
Navigating how to pay for my education, while dealing with cystinosis can be daunting. I already have over $8,000 in student loan debt.
However, I have hope because Bernie will work towards college affordability. He believes that everyone regardless of their family’s income should be able to get a high quality education.
As a transgender woman, I know Bernie has my back because he has been out there fighting for LGBTQIA+ equality since the 70s. As U.S. Representative in 1996, he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned all federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and Bernie has always voted for non-discrimination bills that include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” protections.
*My support for Senator Bernie Sanders will not interfere with my position as Affirmative Action Chair for the Pottawattamie County Democrats.*
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