So I want to know from you, sir, if you will support the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, that protect people like me from being thrown into a lottery system such as a high-risk pool, and not being guaranteed receiving any insurance at all, and protect my children and my husband from going bankrupt to keep me alive.
For Mary-Beth Brooks, it was a matter of life and death, as she sat nervously, waiting for her Congressman, New Jersey Republican Rep. Leonard Lance’s, Town Hall to begin.
Clutching a stack of red raffle tickets, ‘This is how much everybody cares about me, they gave me their tickets,’ she hoped against hope, one of them would be picked by Lance.
She had voted for him, and this was her first Town Hall.
A thousand rambunctious constituents packed the Raritan Community College auditorium in Branchburg, New Jersey. Hundreds overflowed into the parking lot and watched on live-stream.
Mary-Beth was there to ask him to vote ‘no’ on the GOP repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, which would throw her into a high risk pool lottery. Her medications were $9,700 a week and in two years, she would be dead because of the lifetime cap imposed by insurance companies.
Lance began, “Let me just say, I don’t think anybody here was paid.”
The crowd erupted in applause, brandishing the green ‘thumbs up,’ side of their cards. The rest of the morning was peppered with jeers, boos, ‘do your job,’ and the red ‘thumbs down’ side of the cards. Impassioned pleas for Trump to release his taxes, questions of his sanity and unhinged tweets, his ‘enemy of the people’ attack on a free press, climate denial, preserving Planned Parenthood, to opposing his immigration ban, decrying the rampant Anti-Semetism and white supremacy, ’Stop Steve Bannon.’ They demanded a special investigation into Trump’s collusion with Russia and his shameless war on the LGBT community and women.
All surprisingly, from the heart of the reddest of red, Republican districts.
But now it was time for the last ticket to be picked, when someone yelled from the audience, ‘This woman has something to say.’ Mary-Beth walked to the microphone.
You see, I don’t look all that sick, But I’ve been diagnosed with a chronic degenerative disease that is slowly robbing me of my ability to use my hands and feet and eventually will move inward far enough to rob me of my brain and my spinal cord. The first year of that medication, just to keep that disease at bay, costs an average of $9,700 a week. That’s half a million dollars in a year sir. At the time, there were no provisions that protected people like me, from lifetime caps. Which means in two years I will have used up the lifetime cap that was imposed upon me by the insurance company. Two years after that, all the money would have come out of my savings, my children’s college fund, my house, and my car. Without the medication, I can’t work and pay taxes, and pay insurance premiums, I can’t raise two children to become productive citizens. I can’t do anything, in fact, by now, I would be dead. So I want to know from you, sir, if you will support the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, that protect people like me from being thrown into a lottery system such as a high-risk pool, and not being guaranteed receiving any insurance at all, and protect my children and my husband from going bankrupt to keep me alive.
Mary-Beth has given voice to the thousands of people who suffer silently. The pain of the disease and the fear that their health care will be taken away so the Republicans can keep a draconian campaign promise.
I posted her video on YouTube and it got about 300 views. I Tweeted it to everyone I could think of. And then I was contacted on Twitter by NowThisNews. They asked if they could use the video to share this powerful moment.
Within the first day it had a million views. It now has 5.3 million views, 39,829 shares, over a thousand comments.
The power of one voice is how the people will take our country back. The Republicans who vote for this bill, nobody has read, nobody knows the cost, in lives or dollars. They will go back to their constituents, and they face thousands and thousands of Mary-Beth’s who will hold them accountable.
Unlike Leonard Lance, (this was his 42nd Town Hall). most Republicans have had NONE.
To his credit, Lance promised to take Mary-Beth’s story back to Washington and he did. As of yesterday he had changed his vote to, ‘no.’
I have been documenting the resistance for over a year, since before it became a hashtag. I have filmed every protest in the streets. I have walked hundreds of miles and filmed a million people and I tell them all. I’m 73 years old, I grew up in the 60s, we brought down two presidents and ended a war... without Twitter. So what’s your excuse?
I am reminded of the words of Patti Smith when I filmed her at Occupy Wall Street, “And the people have the power, to redeem the work of fools.”
So get your cameras, get out in the streets, go to the town halls, grab your signs, pink pussy hats and hashtags. We can do this.