LAS VEGAS — Adding a voice to the chorus against the Republican-led American Health Care Act is a group not usually heard on protest frontlines: Prostitutes.
Licensed prostitutes in Nevada, working in legal brothels, are organizing against legislation they say will devastate them, other prostitutes across the nation and their families.
With the Affordable Care Act under threat of being repealed and replaced, “thousands of prostitutes nationwide were, for the first time, able to obtain affordable health care insurance for themselves and their families,” according to a news release.
Dubbing itself “Hookers for Health Care,” this group plans to go “on a political offensive … lobbying politicians, protesting in the streets, and waging battle on social media to stop the Republican effort.”
At the helm is Alice Little, 27, who works near Carson City, Nevada, at Dennis Hof’s Sagebrush Ranch brothel.
She thinks about the cuts being proposed, the slashes to coverage for things such as pregnancies and eating disorders, and is outraged by the toll it will take on women.
“When I look at the folks that are making decisions, the majority of them are male voices,” she said. “They have no idea how they’re affecting women’s lives.”
About 100 women working in Hof’s seven brothels have signed up to be involved with this new movement.
She said several dozen women and counting have agreed to sign onto a petition she’s drafting, and that many are waiting to have their stories recorded for social media purposes.
“These ladies are often stereotyped and I want to bring some humanity to their stories,” said Little, whose mother is a cancer survivor. “We are people. We have families. We have the same health concerns as other Americans.”
As independent contractors, she said, prostitutes are “at the mercy of the health care marketplace to obtain our own insurance” and are often reliant on Medicaid.
“I have been fortunate to amass a strong clientele and establish myself as a financially successful businesswoman within Nevada’s legal brothel industry, but that can take time,” Little said in the release.
In fact, she’s so successful that Hof said she made about $500,000 last year.
But even with her success, Little knows plenty of women need a break.
“A young woman entering our business, who in some cases may also be a single mother with limited financial means, will also need time,” Little said.
“Expanded access to Medicaid for her or her child may be the only way that she is able to know that they will be protected in case of medical misfortune.”
It’s not just the prostitutes and their families who stand to lose if this new bill passes, Little said.
Consider the housekeepers, bartenders and cashiers who also work hard to be self-sustaining Nevadans. Also added to the list of those she hopes to protect are brothel clients.
“Under Trumpcare insurers will be able to charge older consumers five times more than young consumers,” she said. “People over the age of 65 make up a very large percentage of Nevada brothel clients.
“If these clients are forced to pay unfairly augmented health care costs, they will not have money on hand to spend on the things that make life worth living in the first place — like sex.”
Her advocacy, however, is not mirrored by her employer. Hof describes himself as fiscally conservative, “but don’t bother me about abortion, who’s having sex with who and weed; it’s a personal choice.”
He is a President Donald Trump supporter, though, who’d like to see Obamacare get tossed out.
“I believe in people taking responsibility for their own lives, and not asking for these kind of government handouts,” he said.
“You start giving these working girls free or discounted health care coverage, then what comes next? … This is definitely not a road we want to go down.”
But even while Hof disagrees with the politics of “Hookers for Health Care,” he supports the involvement of women who work for him.
He said there are 540 prostitutes affiliated with his brothels, and “These aren’t your daddy’s old hookers.”
By that he says he means, “These aren’t street walkers. They’re professional working girls that work in a legal environment.”
In fact, he said half of them have college educations, 20 percent have master’s degrees, a few have doctorate degrees and one, an Ivy League-educated professor, picks up hours to help pay off her huge student loans.
“I love that they’re involved,” he said. “These girls are smart, they will be running our country, and they vote.”