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A town hall with Sen. Dean Heller turned electric Monday when a chronically ill Reno woman confronted him, asking if he would vote to mess with her health care and refusing to back down.

Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images.

Vivian Leal, a 51-year-old mother with multiple sclerosis, wanted to know whether the Nevada Republican would support a plan that would place her in a high-risk insurance pool because of her condition. High-risk pools segregate customers with pre-existing conditions into plans with higher premiums, while healthy people pay less.


Several Republican lawmakers, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, have expressed support for such plans.

"It’s harder to make laws about people who they’re going to affect when you have to face the people they might hurt," Leal says.

In a video circulating on Twitter, Heller began by offering that he was sorry to hear Leal's story.

Leal continued to press the senator as he attempted to steer the conversation to a discussion of why he rejected the Republican health care plan.

The exchange quickly became heated.

Soon, the crowd was chanting, "Yes or no," and Heller was forced to reply:

"I will support high-risk pools because there are some people who want them," Heller finally admitted to the crowd.

For Leal, portioning off health care is both a moral and economic concern.

"Who are we when we just huddle all our sick into one pool and make them pay higher penalties for being sick beyond their illness?" Leal wants to know.

Some states allowed residents to buy into high-risk insurance pools prior to the Affordable Care Act, which often featured far higher costs of care for sick customers. According to an NPR report, plans bought through Minnesota's pool, for example, cost about 25% more than regular plans, with some participants paying up to $18,000 per year in premiums.

Planned Parenthood supporters before Heller's town hall. Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images.

"Letting us buy into a high-risk pool is access, but it’s not really accessible coverage or affordable coverage at all. It might as well be no coverage for most people," Leal explains. Both she and her husband currently receive coverage through a plan on Nevada's ACA exchange, which Leal credits for giving her the "freedom from the fear of illness and bankruptcy."

Leal isn't the only American making it harder for her elected representative to get away with a "fuzzy answer" these days.

Last week, Oklahomans needling Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R) over his responsibility to serve their interests prompted the congressman to insist the notion that citizens pay his salary is "bull crap," touching off a mini-firestorm in the media.

Also on Monday, constituents of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) demanded to know whether he would apply the same zeal for investigating Russian election interference as he did for the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Time will tell how Heller's encounter with his constituents affects his votes on issues like health care.

In the meantime, as her senator prepares to travel back to Washington, Leal's message is clear:

"We see you."

Correction 4/19/2017: An earlier version of this article stated that Leal receives health coverage through her husband's job. Both she and her husband are covered by a plan on the Nevada ACA exchange.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


Being married is like being half of a two-headed monster. It's impossible to avoid regular disagreements when you're bound to another person for the rest of your life. Even the perfect marriage (if there was such a thing) would have its daily frustrations. Funnily enough, most fights aren't caused by big decisions but the simple, day-to-day questions, such as "What do you want for dinner?"; "Are we free Friday night?"; and "What movie do you want to see?"

Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

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Democracy

A man told me gun laws would create more 'soft targets.' He summed up the whole problem.

As far as I know, there are only two places in the world where people living their lives are referred to as 'soft targets.'

Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

Only in America are kids in classrooms referred to as "soft targets."

On the Fourth of July, a gunman opened fire at a parade in quaint Highland Park, Illinois, killing at least six people, injuring dozens and traumatizing (once again) an entire nation.

My family member who was at the parade was able to flee to safety, but the trauma of what she experienced will linger. For the toddler with the blood-soaked sock, carried to safety by a stranger after being pulled from under his father's bullet-torn body, life will never be the same.

There's a phrase I keep seeing in debates over gun violence, one that I can't seem to shake from my mind. After the Uvalde school shooting, I shared my thoughts on why arming teachers is a bad idea, and a gentleman responded with this brief comment:

"Way to create more soft targets."

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Paul Rudd in 2016.

Passing around your yearbook to have it signed by friends, teachers and classmates is a fun rite of passage for kids in junior high and high school. But, according to KDVR, for Brody Ridder, a bullied sixth grader at The Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster, Colorado, it was just another day of putting up with rejection.

Poor Brody was only able to get four signatures in his yearbook, two from what appeared to be teachers and one from himself that said, “Hope you make some more friends."

Brody’s mom, Cassandra Ridder has been devastated by the bullying her son has faced over the past two years. "There [are] kids that have pushed him and called him names," she told The Washington Post. It has to be terrible to have your child be bullied and there is nothing you can do.

She posted about the incident on Facebook.

“My poor son. Doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better. 2 teachers and a total of 2 students wrote in his yearbook,” she posted on Facebook. “Despite Brody asking all kinds of kids to sign it. So Brody took it upon himself to write to himself. My heart is shattered. Teach your kids kindness.”

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