My introduction to health care started at 5 years old with my diagnosis of type one diabetes. I spent a week in the hospital getting oriented to my new lifestyle and I probably knew more nurses than other kids my age, but other than the the relative reduction in Oreos compared to my peers, I lived a healthy active life as a child. At age 23 I went to Cap-Haitien, Haiti to run a camp for kids living with diabetes, and I saw how my story was different from others. A father at the camp saw me testing my blood sugar before lunch and was shocked to learn that someone as tall as me could possibly have diabetes. Later as a counselor at a similar camp back in Big Bear, California, I saw that complications related to diabetes were also dramatically affecting my peers back at home. At the end of camp, the counselors would divvy up the remaining medical supplies among those who didn’t have health insurance or couldn’t afford the high deductibles. Some of my friends relied on these donations until the winter camp in December. When I realized that the only health care some of my friends had was living off of donated medicines at camp, I knew change was needed.
In 2017, while organizing for Single Payer, I found myself asking how we are going to reign in high drug prices. A Right Care Alliance member and fellow person with T1D pointed me to the RCA. The RCA is one of the only organizations that critically assess the problems with health care in the US, responds with cross-cutting solutions, and elevates patient voices and leverages the power of health care professionals and their institutions to enact change. One year into the RCA’s drug pricing campaign we have received national media attention and have even been noticed by high-level legislators like Bernie Sanders. I believe the collective strength of the Right Care Alliance and our ability to collaborate with allied groups make us a powerful contender to enact meaningful change. I’m excited to see our strength grow in 2019 and am hopeful that our influence will enable a new system of health care that ensures patients over profits.