Local activists demonstrate in support of Affordable care Act, NC Medicaid expansion

Obamacare Protest_Zack Weaver.jpg

Zachary Weaver
  News Editor

A protest was held in support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) outside of Wesley Long Hospital on Sunday, January 15.

The protest, organized by Piedmont Progressive Action (PPA), aimed to voice support of ACA and send a statement to Republican lawmakers seeking repeal. It also spoke out against the recent blocking of NC Governor Roy Cooper’s Medicaid expansion plan by state Republicans.

“We’re part of a national day of protest, and the object is to save Obamacare from being destroyed,” PPA Executive Director David Dalton said. “Locally, I’m here to support Gov. Cooper’s plan to expand Medicaid.”

The event Facebook page described it as a “grassroots mobilization and demonstration against a budget bill by Republicans that will force cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”

“We are ultimately seeking a single payer system or universal healthcare,” event organizer Matt Amick said. “We want to break through the walls of partisanship and bring awareness to certain issues like education and healthcare. At the present, we are facing a tremendous war being waged against women’s health, the elderly and the poor. These cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and the repealing of the Affordable Care Act will be devastating for the people that rely on these services. Our health should not be a commodity.”

Utilizing a ‘Burma Shave’ style organization – which consists of a message spelled out across multiple sequential signs – the demonstration displayed numerous slogans supporting ACA and Medicare/Medicaid expansion in North Carolina.

The demonstration was inspired by a national ‘call-to-arms’ by ex-Democratic Primary Candidate Bernie Sanders, who used the hashtag #OurFirstStand to galvanize demonstrators.

PPA is a political action committee (PAC) rather than a non-profit organization, meaning that they have no inherent affiliation to a political party. The group’s organizational intent is to consist of individuals sharing values instead of party identification, and to support progressive candidates across partisan lines.

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Individual protestors professed a variety of reasons for their support of ACA; chief among these was it providing healthcare to those previously uninsurable.

“Most of my patients are on Medicare,” Bill Clegg said, “so if it weren’t for Medicare, they would be dead because they couldn’t afford dialysis.”

 

Awareness-raising was a primary goal of the demonstration, with many participants emphasizing the need to get word out, among citizens and representatives alike.

“I want my senators, my congressmen, to know that their constituents have this as a concern,” Larry Eisenberg said.

Others cited personal experience with ACA, describing expanded coverage and more affordability.

“I have insurance with my employer,” Greensboro resident Alan Hedrick said, “and for the first time ever in my life my health care insurance rates did not go up.”

A common theme was people who receive medical care necessary for continued life, which ACA repealment would make unaffordable under pre-existing condition clauses.

“Everyone having access to health insurance saves lives,” Iris Carter said.

There will be a protest on January 21 in Greensboro, corresponding with others in Washington DC and other parts of the nation. The Women’s March on Washington will support women’s rights, with the intention of sending a message to lawmakers. The Triad NC Women’s March will meet at Government Plaza at 9:30 a.m. to march at 10, ending at LeBaur Park with speakers and local musical performances.



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