Last year, cancer patient and Nevada resident Laura Packard asked her U.S. Senator why he was willing to sacrifice her life for corporate tax breaks. In a public event in Las Vegas, she raised her voice and spoke personal truth to elected power:
“Why do you not care about the lives of thousands of Nevadans and millions of Americans?” asked Packard. “Why are you voting for me to lose my health coverage? Without it I will die.”
Laura Packard was ultimately asked to leave the event—but she and millions of activists across the country have not stopped fighting for Americans’ right to access quality and affordable health care.
In the last year and a half, Republicans in the United States Congress have tried to attack the Affordable Care Act from every angle at their disposal. They tried—and failed—to destroy our health care system through their health care repeal bill last summer. They stripped away coverage for millions of Americans—while offering tax cuts to their wealthy donors—through their disastrous tax bill. Earlier this month, their dangerous “junk insurance” that skirts consumer protections hit the market in states across the country.
And yet, in the midst of these attacks, the American people found a way to defend ourselves: reminding our lawmakers, and each other, of our our shared humanity by sharing our personal stories.
Every single time a lawmaker on Capitol Hill has chosen to attack our health care, theyhave been met with a chorus of voices from across the country. When politicians attack Medicaid and the Affordable Care, Americans rise up to share their own experiences, and describe exactly what it is like to have their care threatened or taken away.
The truth is that a medical emergency can happen to anyone. From our friends, to our family, to our neighbors–all of us deserve access to the necessary treatment that could save our lives.
That’s why every day Americans like Elena Hung, who spends every day fighting for her four-year-old daughter with complex medical needs, and Laura Packard are holding Congress accountable and sharing their stories with lawmakers.
Their personal stories show members of Congress exactly who they are putting at risk when they take actions that threaten our access to life saving medicines and treatments.
Our lawmakers can try to tear at our financial security, they can bend at the will of their wealthy donors, and they can try to devalue the health care and treatment that is keeping so many of us alive—but they will never be able to touch our voices.
The reality is that we are powerful. Our voices, our stories, and our experiences are our superpowers. Sharing our stories makes the policy personal. It forces lawmakers to face their constituents and confront the reality of their actions and their votes in Congress. It puts a public face to the fight and shows the country that decisions made on Capitol Hill have real and life-threatening effects on our communities.
And it reminds every elected politician that, ultimately, they work for us.