Oregon’s Democratic U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., led a rally in support of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, on Saturday Feb. 25. Lane Community College hosted the rally at the front of the Center Building on the main campus.
More than 400,000 Oregonians will lose health care coverage if the ACA is repealed due to the president’s executive order.
The health care rally kicked into gear once Congressman DeFazio took his seat on the platform, joining other members of the panel, which was composed of local leaders, services and organizations located in Lane county.
Rally attendees roared in agreeance as Merkley spoke at the podium to hundreds of people.
A cold breeze was felt by the public as they waited for panel members give their testimonials, including both personal and professional stories of how the ACA is an asset, not a liability.
Each leader and community member sitting on the panel are from diverse backgrounds, and occupations — this diversity would also be reflected by impact felt of each should the ACA be repealed.
American flags flew in the breeze while Senator Merkley shared a story about a woman who had approached him at a Multiple Sclerosis rally.
She told him things were very different last year for the Multiple Sclerosis community, “If you were sick the outlook would be gloomy,” Merkley said. “Health insurance has an annual and lifetime cap and MS is a preexisting condition so you cannot get insurance.”
“This is what she told me next, ‘now we have peace of mind to know our loved ones are going to get the care they need,’” Merkley said. “Health care is a human right, not a luxury for the healthy and wealthy,” the crowd roared in agreement.
“Even though Trump is intent on repealing of local services and organizations like the ACA,” Merkley said, “we must stay the course, we must rebuild a solid foundation of government, by the people and for the people, and win a bunch of elections in 2018.”
Every year at the State of the Union members are allowed to have one guest. “I will have an empty chair next to me to represent the people who they have no replacement plan for and those who will die, or go bankrupt if ACA is repealed,” DeFazio said.
The crowd cheered.
When asked if the ACA is repealed what would the impact be on the health and dental clinics at Lane and would they be able to rebound from such a large hit. “I do not know the logistics of this campus, but part of ACA was big expansion for health clinic funding including ones like here at LCC. A lot of clinics will go out of business,” Merkley said.
Republicans proclaimed the ACA bill would be voted on in late January. A month later and there has been no vote still. “I think the presidential cabinet was concerned when ACA support rallies popped up all over before the president was sworn into office,” Merkley said.
Merkley summed it up as this, “Quality of life touches every part of our families, we are under an intense attack by the incoming administration, we need to partner with grassroots if we are going to succeed in this battle.”
“It is invigorating for me to see this tremendous turn out, it doubles my energy; but we need that turnout in the red states,” Merkley said.