Effects of Repeal

aca-imageThe Senate has passed the first step of repealing the Affordable Care Act on a vote of 51-48, and the House did the same by a vote of 227-198. This first phase included a budget blueprint that includes the repeal.

Democrats in Congress fought this budget blueprint and even tried to pass amendments which would allow imports of prescription drugs from Canada. However, some Democrats for whatever reason voted down that amendment. Amendments that would protect rural hospitals and ensure the continued access to health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions (The New York Times).

Specifically, repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would mean that 57 million senior citizens and disabled Americans with Medicare would experience higher premiums and deductibles. Repeal would also increase Medicare spending by $802 billion over ten years, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.

With the repeal of the ACA, companies would no longer have to keep young adults on their parents’ plans until they turn 26. Additionally, with repeal employers would be allowed to impose annual or lifetime limits on benefits and caps on out-of-pocket spending. Further, insurers could ban works with a pre-existing condition or ask them to pay more. Even further, with repeal insurers could charge a woman more than men just because of their gender. Repeal would also take Medicaid away from the nearly 17 million people who gained access because of the ACA (CNN).

Repeal of the law would result in the number of uninsured people to rise by 24 million by 2021. It would also mean the increase of State spending on health care by $68.5 billion, according to the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Therefore, repeal of the ACA is costly, and we will leave millions of Americans without health insurance. We must stand up against this Republican attack on health care in America.

I am one of the Americans who benefits from the ACA because I live with a pre-existing condition, cystinosis. The disease is a rare orphan disease that causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells, and it slowly damages my organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, lungs muscles, and brain.

If the ACA is repealed, I will suffer. I may not be able to access health insurance to cover my care and prescription drugs. Without it, I would never be able to pay for many of my medications because of the high costs.

The ACA is a significant step forward, and we must fight to protect it. However, even with it one of my medications, Procysbi costs over $75,000 for a 30-day supply. That is just one medication not including the 28 other medications I am taking.

We must do more, but first, we must defend the ACA from Republican attacks.

Join me in calling, writing, and visiting our Congressional Reps. and Senators to tell them to stand up for Americans and vote down any repeal effort.

Call your Rep or Senator here: House, Senate

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Defend the ACA

It has been six years since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, and it is working. Because of the ACA, Americans have access to benefits like free preventive care and more coverage for prescription drugs; young adults can stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26; no lifetime limits on their insurance; and no unfair costs for women, or denials based on pre-existing conditions.

I am one of the Americans who benefits from the ACA because I live with a pre-existing condition, cystinosis. I was diagnosed with cystinosis around the age of 10 months old. The disorder is a rare orphan disease that causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells, it slowly damages my organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, lungs muscles, and brain.

Additionally, because of the ACA insurance companies cannot force lifetime caps on how much they are willing to pay.

If the ACA is repealed, I will suffer. I may not be able to access health insurance to cover my care and prescription drugs. Without it, I would never be able to pay for my prescription drugs because of the high cost, which is a challenge we are still faced with.

The ACA is a significant step forward, and we must fight to protect it. However, even with it one of my medications, Procysbi costs over $75,000 for a 30-day supply. That is just one drug, not including the other 28 medications that I am on.

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We must do more, but first, we must defend the ACA from Republican attacks.

Join me in calling, writing, and visiting our Congressional Reps and Senators to tell them to stand up for Americans and vote down any repeal efforts.

Join one of these events to Save Health Care: Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids
Call your Rep or Senator here: House, Senate

2016

 

This past year has been very exciting and challenging. Many events have taken place. Let’s begin with January.

In January, I started working for the Bernie Sanders campaign. On the campaign, I worked under a field organizer to help ensure they met all of their goals. I was working in Iowa on the caucuses where I was based in Council Bluffs and also did organizing in Harrison County.

On February 1st, Sen. Sanders won half the Iowa delegates. Iowa was a tie this was huge news for the Bernie Sanders campaign. The official results were 49.8% for Clinton and 49.6% for Sanders. Therefore, Sen. Sanders won 696.82 state delegates, and Hillary Clinton won 700.9.

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Locally, Pottawattamie County, which was supposed to be a stronghold for Hillary Clinton went to Bernie Sanders, 50.7% to 49%. Further, in my precinct, Council Bluffs 11, it went 62.5% for Sanders and 37.5% for Clinton.

Bernie Sanders had a great showing in Iowa for a long-shot candidate.

Following the Iowa caucuses, I began working in Nebraska on their caucuses as a Field Organizer. During this part of the campaign, I was based in Lincoln. Thus, on the weekends I would spend my time there and weekdays in Council Bluffs organizing in Omaha and Dodge County, NE because I was still a full-time student at Iowa Western Community College.

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After the Nebraska Caucuses, I went back to working in Iowa, but now I was organizing the Sanders campaign participation in the County and District Conventions. We worked to make sure that Sen. Sanders would get a fair representation of the delegation he won on the night of the caucuses.

I also worked in Kansas on their District Conventions doing the same job and in Colorado on their State Convention doing similar work, but I also had the opportunity to monitor the official counting of the ballots and helped with the certification of those ballots as the Sanders, campaign representative.

Moving forward, in June at the Iowa Democratic State Convention, I ran for Democratic National Committee (DNC) member. I did lose the election. Together we won. We won at the state conventions around the nation, in California, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Washington.

Even though I lost, we won, because we won enough votes to show a strong standing against the party establishment demonstrating that we want change.

Specifically, at the Iowa State Convention, we passed one of the most progressive Democratic State platforms.

  • Calling for single-payer healthcare
  • Supporting the death with dignity act
  • Protecting LGBTQIA elders against discrimination
  • Support of health insurance coverage for transgender individuals
  • Support of tuition-free state college and universities
  • Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Support of equal human rights for Palestinians and Israelis.
  • Calling for 100% renewable energy by the year 2025.
  • Opposition to fast-tracking trade agreements.

The convention even agreed to a plank calling for the abolishment of superdelegates.

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In July, I officially came out in support of Hillary Clinton. This was after 29 million people voted in the Democratic primary. Bernie Sanders won 1,831 national delegates, 13 million votes, and Hillary Clinton won 2,220 national delegates.

It was an honor to have volunteered and been a staffer for Senator Sanders. Together, we began a revolution to transform American politics and that revolution continues. We fought and are fighting for a government that works and represents us all, not just the one percent.

In August, I moved to the University of Iowa to get my Bachelor’s degree in psychology and perhaps sociology. At the University of Iowa, I have taken the following classes, Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, and Sociological Theory.

However, moving to Iowa City wasn’t all fun because a couple of things happened after I got here. I received terrible news of a friend passing away. Her name was Pauline Beck.

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Pauline was a great person who would do anything for the people she loved. She even had an impact on many lives by her generous heart. She was a friend to many and was like a mother to others.

I first met Pauline the first day she walked into the 2016 Bernie Sanders office in Council Bluffs, Iowa. From that day forward she was in the office nearly every day. She took care of many of the needs of the office, or she would find someone who could. She provided many home cooked meals, cleaned the office, and made many creative decorations.

She is greatly missed by many.

Then we have November where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the undemocratic Electoral College vote to Donald Trump. We lost the battle but not the war.

On November 10, the vote total was 59,695,628 popular votes and 279 electoral votes for Donald Trump to 59,920,291 popular votes and 228 electoral votes for Hillary Clinton which her lead would grow to nearly 3 million votes.

As a progressive Democrat, I was proud to have voted for Hillary Clinton, and I am deeply saddened by the results of this election.

Even though Democrats did not win back the Senate as expected or gain more seats in the House; Democrats did not lose everything. Just look at the states. In states like California, Nevada, Washington, Colorado, and others they all passed progressive ballot measures.

Arkansas

  • Legalized medical marijuana

California

  • New background checks for ammunition and prohibits possession of large capacity magazines
  • Legalized marijuana for use by adults 21 and over

Colorado

  • Raised the minimum wage
  • Allow terminally ill patients to end their life with assistance of a doctor

Maine

  • Legalized marijuana for use by adults 21 and over
  • Raised the minimum wage

Massachusetts

  • Legalized the possession of marijuana

Montana

  • Legalized medical marijuana

Nevada

  • Expanded gun background checks
  • Legalized marijuana

North Dakota

  • Legalized medical marijuana

Washington

  • Increased the minimum wage

14956434_1272438012819316_4901109538472250760_nAdditionally, in November Blair Lawton announced that he would run for Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party and I threw my support behind him.

I support Blair for the position because of his experience working on campaigns and his ideas on how to rebuild our party. Blair believes in contesting every legislative race and spending less time courting big donors and more time building grassroots donations from activists.

20160412_114409On December 5, I announced my candidacy for Vice-Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. The election will be held on January 21.

I am running for Vice-chair because I want to give back to the party that has fought for my civil rights and fights for health care for all. I am running because I want to rebuild the party.

My passion stems from the fact that I know that if I want to have rights, I need to step up and fight for them.

Half of the year, I have been fighting for health insurance because the Social Security Administration decided that I am no longer medically disabled. However, the issue is that they not only want me to go to work which is fine but they terminated my health insurance, and I am left to my own devices to find health insurance. Meaning that I must find health insurance that will cover my medications including anti-rejection and cystinosis medications, which add up quickly, one of the drugs alone Procysbi cost over $63,000 for a 30-day supply.

This on-going battle with the Social Security Administration is quite stressful and demeaning. Especially because of the psychological evaluation, an enormous amount of paperwork, and calls I have endured during the last six months.

Participating in a psychological evaluation to determine if one need help through the Social Security Administration can be hurtful and demeaning especially when the psychologist has their biases against the client.

From the beginning, she was expecting a male and instead got me. On top of that, I was involved with the Democratic party.

Therefore, reading her evaluation makes one feel inferior and worthless. Specifically, in the evaluation notes, she states, “She appeared to be low average intellectual ability,” and she did this without doing any intelligence assessments. But we cannot forget how she calls me male several times.

How would I rate 2016?

The first part of the year was awesome I was full of hope and energy but as the year went on that energy and hope drained.

Currently, I have little hope for a better future, and my energy is draining fast. This is because of these recent events with Hillary Clinton losing, Democrats losing control of the Senate in Iowa, not gaining control of the U.S. Senate, and not to forget this on-going battle that I keep fighting with the Social Security Administration. I seem to be losing this fight, and I keep getting this feeling that hits me in the gut, it feels like I’ve already been defeated.

Nevertheless, with the hope I have, I will fight on!

$63,000 for a medication!

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One of my medications, Procysbi costs $63,000 for a 30-day supply.

I live with cystinosis, a very rare orphan disease that causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells. It slowly damages all my organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, lungs, muscles, and brain.

CELLS_b-02-big1The primary medication to treat cystinosis is Procysbi. It has the same active ingredient as Cystagon (cysteamine bitartrate), which is the immediate-release form of the primary treatment for cystinosis. The difference is that Procysbi has an enteric coating over the active ingredient. This new form of the drug was only recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2013.

In 2015, the average price was $250,000 a year which is a 2,400% increase compared to the original drug, Cystagon (1).

Unfortunately, because of the high cost of this medicine, insurance companies fight not to cover the drug, and I am left without the drug sometimes for weeks. A recent survey of 50 insurers and pharmacy benefit managers by J.P. Morgan which found that medicines for the rare disease are increasingly subject to scrutiny and possible restrictions on use, as mine are (2).

The Affordable Care Act does not come close to combating this problem of skyrocketing medication prices and the prices of medical care. It does, however, provide that everyone is guaranteed health insurance.

Let’s demand that Congress enact regulations that control the costs of prescription drugs and even lower the cost of these drugs.

Sign this petition calling on Congress to act: Sign here

1.  Carrol, John. “Raptor’s orphan drug-win at FDA overshadowed by debate over steep price,” fiercebiotech.com, Biotech Industry’s Daily Monitor, 1 May 2013. Web 2 Nov. 2015

2. Pollack, Andrew. “Parental Quest Bears Fruit in a Kidney Disease Treatment,” the New York times (2013): B1 Print.

Don’t Let Hate Win!

13710452_1194869870569540_2942808506993206748_oLet’s not let hate win this election!

Next week make sure you vote and vote for progressives. Progressives who stand for moving our nation forward. We can only do this by voting for progressives at all levels of government city, state, and federal. For us to get a progressive agenda moving, we need a Democratic House and Senate to work with a Democratic President next year. This means we must be sure to vote for Hillary Clinton next Tuesday. 

By doing this, we can stand up to the gun lobby, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour or higher, pass a paid family and medical leave act, provide clean alternative energy, and pass single payer health care. 

Yes, I had the honor to volunteer and worked for Senator Bernie Sanders and the policial revolution. That revolution continues. It continues with the fight for real progressive change and standing up against hate. We fought during the primaries to make our government work and represent us all not just the one percent. We fought to change our Democratic Party to make it more progressive, inclusive, and welcoming. We had made wins. However, Sen. Sanders lost the primary, and now we must stand behind Hillary Clinton to defeat the monster which is Donald Trump. Then, on Hillary’s first day as President, we must hold her accountable to the Democratic Party’s platform.

Remember, as Sen. Bernie Sanders says,

This is the time to elect Hillary Clinton and then work after the election to mobilize millions of people to make sure she can be the most progressive president she can be.

The power is in your hand!

Go out there and vote on Nov. 8th!