RENO — Opening his Reno campaign headquarters — Organizing for America Office — opened its first office in northern Nevada Thursday in Reno, five months earlier than last campaign season in 2007.
President Barack Obama’s Reno team unlocked the same office building amidst a downtown location surrounded by Latino wedding dress shops and a local play house.
Familiar posters filled the walls. Obama’s face emblazoned the familiar colorful images placed on a black background with the bold word of HOPE imprinted below. The only change in the office was the number 2012 written on wallpaper and beneath the posters.
Obama’s presence was felt throughout. Although the iconic man himself was not present, a cardboard cutout of his likeness greeted visitors at the front office.
Workers welcomed each other, many who hadn’t worked together since 2008 when victory had filled the room.
“For those of us running, it’s a great place to come,” said Shiela Leslie, who recently announced her run for a state Senate seat in District 15 against incumbent Republican Greg Brower. “We’re working toward a common goal. We have a lot of good momentum.”
Leslie recently needed to make a personal choice to move two miles away to a smaller house due to a lifestyle change. This, unfortunately, set her in a different political district and she had to resign her former state Senate post to run for re-election, she said. The change didn’t discourage her from throwing in her hat for the new district and starting over again, she said
“I love serving the legislature,” Leslie said. “In a redistricting year that’s when you have the opportunity to make a personal decision to help your party and the president. Why wouldn’t I do that?”
As Republican nominees jockey for position as to who will be the nominee, Obama’s team reports it has already been busy making inroads into the Silver State.
“We’ve been on the ground in Nevada for years, building our organization and engaging voters. This allows us another opportunity to do that in Reno,” said Reno campaign spokeswoman Aoife McCarthy.
A handful of volunteers and regional field directors were busy discussing strategy, making calls behind darkened glass rooms and discussing plotted charts about unemployment rates in the states that hung on walls throughout the spacious office space.
“It’s still horrifyingly awful, but it’s still better than it was,” said one worker looking over the unemployment chart. “It’s one of the promises kept (by Obama). The graphics are so powerful.”
The general sense was that of “getting down to business” and not of a celebratory open house arrival.
Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, made an appearance to mark the opening, speaking mostly about the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act that provides new coverage options and tools, signed into action by Obama March 23, 2010.
“We’re excited to be opening this office again. There’s always a lot of excitement generated around here,” Smith said before remarking about the successes of the national health care act that she reported has helped thousands of Americans with health care costs and services by its second anniversary.
The Affordable Health Care Act put into place comprehensive health insurance reforms that are expected to roll out over four years and beyond, with most changes taking place by 2014. Many have already started.
Sen. Harry Reid put out a statement this week, celebrating many achievements for seniors in Washoe County, he said.
Reid announced savings for thousands of Nevada seniors in Washoe County who fell into the prescription drug “donut hole.” In Washoe County alone, 3,689 seniors saved $2,045,044 in 2011 for an average of $554 per senior. Statewide, health insurance reform enabled 22,193 Nevada residents with Medicare to save $12,274,764 on prescription drugs in 2011, Reid stated.
“Health insurance reform is putting money back into the pockets of Nevada seniors by reducing what they spend on prescription drugs and providing free preventive services,” said Reid. “I am glad to see seniors in Washoe County take advantage of these services that save money and lower long-term health care costs.”
More seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare have seen significantly lower costs for critical health care – through both discounts on brand-name drugs in the Medicare Part D “donut hole” coverage gap and free preventive care.In 2011, about 3.6 million Medicare beneficiaries across the country received discounts on prescription drugs which amounted to more than $2.1 billion in savings. Savings will be even higher in the coming years as the health insurance reform law completely phases out the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” by 2014. By 2021, it is projected the average Medicare beneficiary will save nearly $4,200 over a ten year period.”
Smith said she is encouraged by the successes she’s personally seen with the program.
“We know that we’ve already seen benefits for 937,000 Nevadans who used to have caps on coverage,” she said. “This is very meaningful. They no longer have caps. And, 162,000 Nevada children will not be excluded from coverage. As a parent and grandparent, it’s a comfort to me. In two years, it will happen for all Nevadans. It’s extremely important for me.”
Another issue important to Smith was bankruptcies and those related to medical bankruptcies that can be avoided if the health care act worked properly, she said.
“Our numbers are down. They are still too high but we will continue to work as efficiently as possible. There should be fewer medical bankruptcies. The health care act provides more stability for the health care provider as well.”