As a pediatric nurse transport coordinator at Jackson Memorial Hospital, what I want most for my young patients is for them to fully recover, to live long, healthy lives and to pursue big dreams. It’s the same thing I want for every child. And I think of this even more now as the presidential primary nears and Floridians must decide which presidential candidate is going to help us build this kind of America.
People may think it isn’t possible for us to give each child a foundation of health and to foster each child’s dreams. But as a man who is part of a dedicated team that spends our days on medical helicopters caring for critically ill children, I have a very strong sense that if we work together, anything is possible. I believe Hillary Clinton does, too.
She is ready to work to put the health of our children first. All children. As First Lady, Hillary Clinton worked to champion the passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a program that now provides healthcare to eight million children and that has earned the unwavering support of Republican and Democratic governors alike. As our next president, Hillary would build upon and strengthen the Affordable Care Act to make sure that more families have better healthcare coverage and lower out-of-pocket and premium costs. She would take on the huge drug companies who are putting the price of lifesaving drugs out of reach for far too many Americans.
Hillary Clinton would also expand access to affordable healthcare to families regardless of their immigration status, healthcare families could purchase directly through insurance companies. This is a critical change to the current law, as many Floridians who are undocumented have no healthcare because employers want to avoid fines and build profits. As a nurse, I can see the healthcare law is working, but we must do more to address skyrocketing costs for everyone, and Hillary knows our vast and complex healthcare system well enough to make that happen.
Hillary Clinton also supports the rights of Americans to unite our voices to raise wages and form unions. Voters may wonder what wages have to do with the health of our children and our country, but as recent studies underscore, whether or not Americans earn enough for basic necessities like food, rent and utilities is one of the primary predictors of whether we will be a country where everyone has an equal shot at living a longer, healthier life.
Thirty-six years ago I came to the United States from Colombia to pursue a dream of saving lives and helping people heal. For almost five years, I worked 16-hour days in various factories, living with the constant threat of arrest and deportation because I wasn’t yet a citizen. At the same time, I was young and I was hopeful and I knew that with hard work, anything was possible. Finally, in 1989, I became a citizen and I earned my nursing degree.
My story is one that seems almost hard to believe today, but I know that as our next president, Hillary Clinton will help us become a country where anyone who wants to work hard and pursue their dreams has an equal chance, no matter where they were born. She supported the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate and stalled in the House and has said that she would take on comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship in the first 100 days of her presidency. She's committed to keeping families together and making sure that families who have long called America their home are treated with dignity.
For the last week, I will have been calling voters and knocking on doors with my fellow healthcare professionals, talking about Hillary Clinton’s vision for a healthier, more just America. By turning out to vote on Tuesday, we can all do our part in making that vision a reality.
Sam Ruiz is a pediatric transport nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital and a Vice President of SEIU Local 1991.