Harrison County

‘If I was to lose my health care, I don’t know what I would do,’ protester says

Shirley Wells of Gulfport said it could happen to anyone at any time.

“You never know — you can be working a good job and then you get sick and become disabled,” Wells said. “This is what happened to me.”

Wells was one of about 20 people who gathered at of the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus on Saturday to show their displeasure with a proposed health care bill in the U.S. Senate. The demonstration was organized by South Mississippi Indivisible, a local branch of the national nonprofit Indivisible Guide, which was created to oppose President Donald Trump’s administration.

The proposed health care bill would replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. It would cut Medicaid spending by nearly 25 percent over the next decade. Medicaid is a health care initiative that receives funding from both state and federal governments.

And for Wells, who injured her spine a few years ago and has been unable to work, that’s not acceptable.

“I worked all of my life and now I can’t work anymore and if you take away our health care, you could be taking away our lives, and I don’t think people realize this until they are put in that position.”

Wells said that Medicaid, and the state-funded Medicare, are her only sources for health care.

“It’s scary because anything can happen on any day — just the other day I fell on the deck and hurt my knee,” she said. “I was immobile, but if I was to lose my health care, I don’t know what I would do.”

She was also carrying a sign at the demonstration that simply said, “I want a town hall meeting.” The meeting she would like to have is with Rep. Steven Palazzo. Wells said she wants Palazzo to use some empathy when it comes to the nation’s health care.

“I sat on the other side of the desk for years, but until a tragedy happens to you, you don’t know how bad it is,” Wells said. “You don’t see it because it hasn’t happened to you and you couldn’t care less about the ‘have nots’ — but this could happen to anyone — I am hopeful, though, that Rep. Palazzo will meet with us and hear what we have to say.”