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Bernie Sanders Medicare For All Press Conference – Melissa Johnson-Camacho Statement

Melissa Johnson-Camacho, RN (center) speaking at Medicare For All Press Conference

Good morning.  My name is Melissa Johnson-Camacho. I am an oncology nurse at a major teaching hospital in Northern California.  I work with cancer patients. And I am a proud member of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.  We have been working across the country for many years,  to bring to life a more humane health care system, based on patient needs, not pain and profit.

I am here to day to advocate for my patients. For cancer patients Medicare for All will bring enormous relief.  For some, it will be the difference between life and death.

Most people do not realize that a cancer diagnosis is not just a very frightening diagnosis - but  for  too many it means financial devastation.  And because of high deductibles and out of pocket expenses – we have tragic cases of people who simply do not have the money to pay for the treatment they need.  

There are patients that I think of almost every day. One young woman still lives deep in my heart. Her cancer had metastasized and her lungs constantly filled with fluid.  She needed to have that fluid drained in order to breathe - to survive.  I noticed that she never completely emptied the fluid from her lungs.  I asked why and was told she could only afford one drainage bag per day. These bags are very expensive and her insurance did not cover the full cost.  So she was never able to fully clear her lungs and was in constant distress and pain struggling to breathe.  

And, to make matters worse, the insurance policy soon renewed - meaning a new annual deductible was in place.

At that point she had to pay the full amount for her medications and supplies until the deductible was met. 

That young woman spent the rest of her life in unnecessary stress, unnecessary pain, and unnecessary agony.  She never again was able to take a full breath.  As far as I am concerned, as a nurse, this was treatment denied – treatment she needed and deserved. 

To me, it is immoral that anyone profits off of another person’s need for health care.  And it is repugnant to me that the profit comes from denying care.  I see the suffering and pain this causes every single day in the faces of my patients.  This system is killing too many of my patients.  I say no more.  Let’s put an end to this immoral system that puts profits before patients’ needs.  I want to thank all the Senators who are co-sponsoring this Bill.  Health care is a right – we can make it happen!