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At a time when the country is very divided and people are so polarized, what’s one to do? Get Involved! Last year I attended an NJOP Action Kick-Off event. I was shocked. It was a Saturday afternoon and the room was filled with people who were willing to work together for access to affordable Healthcare, Sandy recovery and to protect NJ from future storms.

Since I have a social work background and feel strongly that everyone should have access to affordable healthcare, I joined the healthcare break out session. I quickly came to realize that there were many people who shared my passion for this issue.

I shared my personal experience of being self-employed for the past thirteen years and having to pay for my own health insurance. I informed the group that although insurance was still quite expensive, it was significantly less expensive through the Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care). As a result of sharing my story, I was asked to attend a meeting at the offices of both Congressman LoBiondo and MacArthur. I was honored to be asked and felt that I would be able to make a difference.

Last fall we held our first healthcare listening campaign; “Neighbor to Neighbor: Cutting Through the Noise.” In full disclosure, when I received the email I did not read it very carefully. I just thought… ‘NJOP is doing an event this weekend regarding healthcare, I will attend.’ It wasn’t until I arrived at the meeting place that I realized we were going to be knocking on people’s doors. Honestly, if I had read the email closely, I would have never attended. I am not one to knock on people’s doors.

To my pleasant surprise, the listening campaign turned out to be fun and more importantly extremely informative. People were willing to talk about their healthcare and share their stories. We found that almost everyone said that healthcare is too expensive. Many expressed that each year it becomes more expensive and the coverage is less. This is especially true for insurance premiums related to employer provided coverage. Many insured through Medicaid stated that though they’re glad they have insurance, it is difficult to find specialists. Often they have to travel a distance to find the care they need. The happiest folks seem to be those who work for the state of NJ, counties or municipalities and those with Medicare. Although the cost of their healthcare has increased, the coverage is generally good.

I have participated in three separate Neighbor to Neighbor Listening Campaigns. Establishing affordable, quality, and compassionate healthcare is critically important to everyone.

This weekend and next, we are holding five 2018 Action Kick-Off events. Please join us! You will not only be doing something for a great cause but you will meet some pretty awesome, passionate people.

Robin M. Bottino, Volunteer 
New Jersey Organizing Project

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