For the last several years, as an ACA enrollment assister in West Virginia, my employer has covered the cost for me to attend the annual Families USA Health Action conference. Health Action is an invaluable experience for me as an outreach specialist and as an aspiring health policy professional. At the conference I'll learn from the best in the field. The breakout sessions will teach me what I need to know for the upcoming year about Medicaid and the ACA Marketplace. And most importantly, the networking with my peers in the field of health care is priceless. The reason for my outreach this year is due to the current political climate. Ironically, as a cancer survivor in West Virginia, I have been afraid I wouldn't be able to afford my health care if efforts to repeal the ACA were successful. So, I left my family and friends, this past year, to advance my career and passion for health policy in New York, a state more conducive to promoting and securing health care for its residents. I am now working for GetCoveredNYC, a city initiative to connect New Yorkers with health coverage. I am able to continue assisting community members in accessing incredibly valuable coverage, while also feeling secure in my own physical, mental, and financial wellbeing.
Beyond adjusting to life in New York City, and working full time to get New Yorkers covered, I am also a Master of Public Health student at George Washington University, where I am focusing on health policy. I hope to one day join the ranks of an advocacy or policy nonprofit that seeks to elicit change in our current health care system. I want to make the system more conducive to the needs of the patient, because I've been in it, and it's not good. I was 25 and on my parents' insurance when I was diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer. My year of chemotherapy and five surgeries would have bankrupted us without the ACA.
This year, I do not have employer funding for the trip, though I am provided the days off to attend. All GoFundMe donations will be applied to the registration fee, transportation, hotel, some food (they feed us about 2 meals a day so I don't need much), and GoFundMe fees. Any amount you give is much appreciated. For what it's worth, my birthday is the week of the Heath Action conference, and I can think of no place I'd rather be than with my colleagues and comrades celebrating our wins this past year (we've killed the bill how many times now?). I promise one day I will be able to afford this conference on my own, but until then, please help me get there!
Our nation still has a long way to go to ensuring everyone has affordable access to health care. I want to be a part of getting us there.
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