Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at Revere High School on Friday. (Matt Demirs)
REVERE — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren stopped at Revere High School Friday night for her 10th Town Hall meeting of 2017, fielding questions from Massachusetts residents eager for answers on topics from healthcare to education.
The Massachusetts Democrat opened with statements regarding the need for affordable healthcare for all Americans as well as her victorious hearing aid bill approved this week, which reduces the price of the device.
“People are saving for years to get a hearing aid. For anyone who has never lived with this, what that means is years in isolation. It might be years when you can’t hear the TV set,” she said. “But it also means years you can’t hear your family.”
The new bill also allows consumers to purchase these devices without the approval of a licensed specialist.
But as folks cheered on Warren’s success in the upper house, they were hungry for the senator’s input on issues concerning them with some carrying personal testimonies.
Jordan LaMark, of Somerville, shared her struggles with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a disorder affecting the connective tissues that support the skin, bones, blood vessels, and other organs and tissues.
LaMark can’t obtain pain medication due to the reactionary legislation and guidelines in response to the opioid crisis, she said.
“I can’t adequately explain what it’s like to be in so much pain,” she said. “Patients like me need your help.”
Warren apologized to LaMark for “being caught in the big winds that are shifting.”
“One part we can do is try to put you in touch with some of the public health people,” Warren said, urging LaMark to meet with her staff after the discussion for further assistance.
“It is important that people with chronic pain are not left behind and left in pain,” she added.
Others, like Michael Nicastro, who is director of outreach at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, wanted Warren’s opinion on the rising economy, posing the question of what the Senator will do to work with the Republican party to continue the success.
Warren argued that there is a problem with the numbers with the rising stock market and the unemployment rate down.
“What worries me about America is the wealth and opportunities that are moving to the top,” said Warren, focusing on “real facts” that trickle back to the 1980s.
“100 percent of the growth of income in this economy since 1980 has gone to the top 10 percent,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s really about our willingness to make investments in the future. Our willingness to say to the big institutions in this country ‘no, you don’t get to run this whole economy’.”
Until we take Washington back and work for the people again, we cannot be the America of our dreams, said the 68-year-old Democratic leader.
It wasn’t the only shots fired from Warren towards the Capitol and their officials, who blamed Betsy DeVos, the United States secretary of education, as one of the problem in America’s educational system right now.
Eva Norwicki, of Everett asked about access and affordability for those seeking higher education in a time where President Donald Trump’s recent discriminatory rhetoric and actions have caused concerns about how students are supported, she said.
“She wants to turn decades of civil rights work on it’s head,” Warren said. “For she wants to say education is now for-profit colleges making a profit on our kids instead of our kids having a chance to build something.”
DeVos’ actions have caused Warren to open up what she calls “DeVos watch,” where she and her team ask questions, keep up with rulings from the Department of Education, and advance the public accountability.
“It isn’t perfect, but it is what we have right now,” she said. “I am going to stay after Betsy DeVos and I am trying to get as many people to help do that because I think that is the best opportunity we’ve got in keeping the public interest in public education here in America.”
Warren, who was elected to the U.S. Senate after defeating incumbent Republican candidate Scott Brown in 2012, vowed to keep the interest of American people close to her.
She is said to be seeking reelection in 2018 against competitors for the Senate seat like Geoff Diehl, who officially announced his candidacy on Tuesday.