Personal Statements of Sit-in Participants

 

Elam Zook

I grew up in the Amish community here in Lancaster County, and even though I'm no longer a compliant member, certain ideas about community are still important to me. The Amish use a system of healthcare that is essentially single payer. What is relevant for us about the Amish system is that, when you start from the premise that everyone is worthy and deserves to be taken care of, single payer-universal coverage is a very practical thing to do.

I'd like to see Congressman Smucker reflect the values that are important to his constituents. Lancaster is a very generous and caring community. Every year at our annual community-wide fundraiser, called the extra ordinary give, we raise millions of dollars. When a tornado touched down in our community several years ago, thousands of people worked alongside their neighbors to rebuild. A one-room Amish schoolhouse that was completely destroyed was ready for classes again in less than a week.

When Congressman Smucker supports policies in Washington that leave many of his constituents without the health care they need, while insurance company executives profit, he is not representing his community.

My Amish ministers who warned me about the evil world were right. We need to be honest about the extreme inequality in our society. Grotesque profiteering at the expense of human dignity is evil. Most Lancastrians are not confused about this. Congressman Smucker could use a reminder of who he is and where he is from.

 

Nelly Torres, 34

I’m life long resident of Lancaster. I graduated from McCaskey and Millersville University. I’ve never participated in an action like this. For years, I’ve imagined what it would be like, but because of my medical condition I shied away from doing so, but today is different. I’ve seen injustice after injustice done to people and I can’t talk about it but I need to “be” about it. I experienced firsthand the discrimination and weakness in the medical system.

As a child into early adulthood, I was energetic and driven to be a positive member in my community. I volunteered, I worked, and I started college. After my first semester in college, I experienced debilitating migraines. The migraines returned not long after and the intervals shortened and the pain duration extended so that it never ceased. I actually forgot what it felt like to pain-free. It was hard on us financially. The co-pays for every test, doctor visit, and prescription were extremely challenging.

After 2 years of this, constant trips to the ER, all the medication trials, and the doctors giving up on me, I pleaded for help as a last effort because I was on the verge of giving up. I got an MRI and while admitted was told I had a tumor the size of a walnut at the base of my brain. I had to see several specialists, get pre-surgery tests, and mentally prep for this. I applied for a leave of absence from school, as requested from the doctors for length of recovery, and everything was set. We communicated with everyone we were supposed to and the day before my operation, my mom’s insurance informed us that I was dropped. We were devastated. We cried and tried to figure out what the next step was. We proceeded because I was in unbearable pain and lost my sight for a day. I don’t wish that experience on anybody.  

I eventually, got coverage through the state and went through so much to get coverage. I could never just focus on my health. All the paperwork, all the medical bureaucracy, and trying to be heard. My insurance was interrupted many times and during those times I had no access to medicine. These years were so difficult. We missed paying bills to get my medicine… many nights anguished over this and feeling like a burden to my family. My tumor returned a second time, and a third time it was causing a hemorrhage. I needed a feeding tube and pain machine. My organs were shutting down.  

Today, it’s been eleven years since my last operation. I am on life sustaining medication, I’m told for the rest of my life. I have a lot of health conditions, which I see different specialists for. I will need to get MRI scans for the rest of my life to make sure the tumor doesn’t grow back. My life is different than I imagined. But I try to do something with my imperfect life. I don’t want to see anyone go through the horrors I’ve experienced. Everyone should have access to proper healthcare. Our elected officials don’t have to worry about that because their healthcare is free thanks to taxpayers.

 

Evan Gentry

Our country is in crisis. We have a President who lies to the entire nation again and again, and the issue of health care is no exception. The AHCA is not healthcare policy. It is simply a tax cut for the rich, financed by taking away health care from working families. By going along with this charade, Lloyd Smucker has betrayed me, just as he betrays all of us. The AHCA guts healthcare access in our community, and the price will be greater economic uncertainty, untreated illnesses, and shortened life-spans. People will die, thanks to the Lloyd's Smucker's vote on May 4th. Adding insult to injury, Congressman Smucker won't even meet publicly with the people affected by his vote. This is outrageous, and I am taking action today to forcefully make one simple request. Lloyd Smucker: listen to your constituents. You need to hear our voices. Hold a town hall.

 

Curtis Jantzi

Having worked in the social services sector, I've seen firsthand how health care is vital to the recovery of those who have experienced bouts of homelessness. I have family members who depend on affordable access to get their medicines and life-saving treatments.

This bill is an example of the disenfranchisement I feel with my government. I pay taxes, and this bill is essentially a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. I can't imagine why they need my money. This is another example of Wall Street over Main Street.

The problems of affordable health care is solvable. But we are choosing not to solve it. To borrow a phrase, we are the richest nation with the highest amount of poverty. No other developed nation has the levels of poverty that we do. This bill is an example of that choice, of rich over poor, of wealth over justice.

 

Daniel Levin, 30

I will lose my insurance if the ACHA passes. It includes a $880 billion cut in Medicaid and Medicare. Currently I am able to get insurance through Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion made this possible. Prior to the ACA, I either went without insurance or I spent more than I could afford on private insurance. I could not afford insurance if the Medicaid expansion was taken away, since I work as a manager at a local coffee shop and barely scrape by as it is. Without insurance, if I experienced a medical emergency I would not be able to pay for it. It is possible that I would suffer or die because I did not have enough money.

My family has experienced multiple health problems. My mother was a diagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenic and ultimately died of a glioblastoma. My brother had Duchenne muscular dystrophy and died at the age of 25. Under the ACHA these conditions will no longer be guaranteed covered by insurance companies. Instead people with these and other serious medical problems will be channeled into high-risk groups. This will lead to higher premiums and less guaranteed coverage. These people are already dealing with debilitating health issues and it is unconscionable that the Republican Party wants to add to their suffering.

I find it infuriating and morally reprehensible to vote for a bill that would drop millions of people from health insurance. People will die and it will lower the quality of living for so many. People like my brother and mother, people with families like mine, families who already struggle to survive will be made worse off.  All of this for political gain and a reward for top earners. We are not pawns. We are actual people. It is disgusting seeing politicians like Lloyd Smucker celebrating passing a bill which would take health care away from millions.