These Parents Suffered an Unfathomable Tragedy - Now They're Leading the Push for Single-Payer Health Care

At the annual People's Summit in Chicago, the Real News Network caught up with Las Vegas parents Amy and David Vilela, whose 22-year-old daughter Shalynne died in 2015 from deep-vein thrombosis. 


"I had to do what no parent should have to do, and that's have your daughter die in your arms," Amy Vilela told TRNN. 

Shortly before her death, Shalynne arrived at the emergency room with symptoms of a dangerous but treatable condition. But she was turned away by hospital staff because she did not have insurance. 

According to Rolling Stone, "the week after her daughter's death, Vilela opened a letter notifying Shalynne that she could sign up for COBRA, a government program that would have allowed temporary continuation of her employer-based insurance from a previous job."

Amy soon realized that her daughter actually had been insured when she visited the ER, though neither knew at the time. The family believes the hospital's treatment of Shalynne as an uninsured person is what ultimately caused her death.

"When I found out what had happened and realized the magnitude and [that] there were other Americans that are, you know, losing their life or they're navigating a serious illness without any means of paying for it, or they're worrying about that instead of worrying about getting better, I knew I couldn't stand by [and] remain silent," Amy said at the Summit. "That's why I got involved in fighting for Medicare for All." 

The People's Summit conference was organized by National Nurses United, a major backer of the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign and nationwide advocate for universal health care. The Vilelas hope to reform rather than dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

In Nevada, "we organized a couple of health care rallies, forming coalitions of different groups," David Vilela told TRNN. "Since then we've got one of our congresswomen, Dina Titus (D-NV-1), [to] co-sponsor [H.R.676 Expanded and Improved] Medicare for All." 

Watch:

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.