Progressive Maryland health care organizer Beth Landry brought to a rally on Capitol Hill the devastating effect of GOP health care plans on the state's patients and their caregivers -- all for a huge tax cut giveaway to the rich. In her speech June 28 she sums up "This bill is literally a death sentence."
/By Beth Landry/ Good afternoon. My name is Beth Landry, and I am a resident of Frederick, Maryland. I am a Registered Nurse, the Healthcare Organizer for Progressive Maryland, as well as a proud member of National Nurses United.
I have worked in healthcare for 13 years, with the past 9 years as an RN. I left my hometown of Salisbury to start work, right here in Washington, DC as a perioperative nurse. I have cared primarily for patients who were being prepared for or just coming out of surgery. Many of the people I have taken care of had very intense, lengthy and invasive procedures, such as removal of obstructions to the carotid artery, removal of brain tumors, or kidney transplants. Another type of specialty I have worked in is caring for those having neurologic syndromes, such as acute strokes and traumatic brain injuries.
I routinely took care of people on what I speculated to be one of the most stressful and anguished days of their lives. I know strength, because I saw it in my patients and their family members during those unbelievably difficult times. I was there taking care of patients and their families while they tried to juggle urgent healthcare matters, as well as potentially losing a house, their car, or their job.
For those like myself in the healthcare profession, being able to give care to those who need it is not just a “soapbox issue.” Giving care to others is not a job. It’s NOT how we make a living. Being a healthcare provider is who we are. When people cannot get the care they need to live the lives they deserve, we carry it with us everywhere we go. We will continue to fight on the front lines for our patients until every person in the United States has guaranteed healthcare.
I’ve had people arrive into my care within hours of death because they feared the cost of their care more than dying itself. I’ve had people tell me they would rather buy food for their pets than pay for their medicine, because at least having their pet makes them happy and life worth living. I’ve cried myself to sleep thinking about how unnecessarily difficult our healthcare system is for those who try to navigate it, let alone rehabilitate and heal to have quality of life.
Mental anguish was not the only thing I took home with me. You may notice some of my dialogue regarding patient care is in the past tense. I am 30 years old, and have had FIVE back injuries from giving patient care. Working in patient care is no longer safe for me to do, or else I risk a surgical procedure of my own. With the proposed American Health Care Act and the Better Care Reconciliation Act, my pre-existing conditions from providing healthcare would exempt me from receiving any semblance of healthcare of my own.
If you’re thinking to yourself, this is absolutely OBSCENE, you’re RIGHT.
Because of the need to make sure all hands are on deck for the 6 million people of Maryland, Progressive Maryland launched their Maryland for Guaranteed Healthcare campaign to fight for many of whom are represented by some of our speakers here today.
Marylanders are thankful that the majority of our elected officials not only do not condone this bill, but take the stage with us against it. You will notice a few that are missing, notably Representative Andy Harris, as well as Maryland’s Governor Hogan. Harris, an anesthesiologist by trade, supported the AHCA and voted YES for it. Not exactly what I call upholding the Hippocratic oath of “first, do no harm.”
Speaking of doing harm, people in my home state of Maryland will bear a tremendous burden if the bill currently in the Senate passes. I cannot even call it a healthcare bill– it is a “wealthcare” bill.
This bill takes health care away from 23 million Americans, slashes Medicaid, sends premiums through the roof, and puts people with pre-existing conditions back at the mercy of the private insurance companies. This bill allows insurance companies to opt out of coverage for essential benefits including prescription drugs, mental health care and maternity care. All to give more than $600 billion in tax breaks, mostly to the very wealthy and drug and insurance companies.
This bill drastically cuts tax credits to buy coverage and by making huge cuts in state funding for Medicaid. Maryland would have to raise nearly an additional $500 million to continue coverage for the quarter of a million people who would lose coverage under the bill, including 32,000 veterans like my brother.
This bill will slash Medicaid by more than $800 billion in two ways – taking away Medicaid expansion coverage from millions of people and radically restructuring the federal funding for the traditional Medicaid program that serves mainly seniors, children, people with disabilities and low-income adults. Nationally, the bill risks health care for 74 million Americans – including 77,000 seniors, over 478,000 children, and almost 150,000 people with disabilities in Maryland.
In our state, over a quarter of a million people would lose coverage because of the Senate bill while 6,770 households with over $1 million would get an average tax break of $28,000.
I intimately know how much pain and suffering passing this bill will cause. I know, because people are already struggling to make ends meet with the status quo. This bill is very literally a death sentence. Children do not deserve to suffer. Elderly people who have worked their entire lives should not be denied healthcare. Elected legislators do not have any more of a right to healthcare than anyone with a disability, anyone working multiple jobs, or anyone in a different zip code.
All of these numbers aren’t just numbers. They’re you. They’re your mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, best friends and co-workers, from the person who waits on you at dinner, to the person delivering your mail, to your child’s teacher and your business partner. These people are the tens of thousands of people I vowed to do everything in my power to make their lives better. All of the healthcare providers and speakers here want to end this unnecessary charade and give real people real solutions. We want Medicaid, not giving more money to millionaires.
I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with you for healthcare for all. I am happy to know that I am surrounded by advocates of the best kind in solidarity. Thank you.
Beth Landry, Progressive Maryland’s health care organizer, spoke June 28 on Capitol Hill to a rally against the Senate health care bill, now delayed.