Late Monday, after two conservative senators announced their opposition to the GOP bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) announced “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace Obamacare will not be successful.”
Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) both said they couldn’t support the Republican health care bill unveiled last week.
Sen. Moran was returning from the July 4th recess and a Town Hall he held on July 6 in Palco, a small town in western Kansas with fewer than 300 residents - yet more than 100 Kansans were there to meet him. They had a vehement message: “Don’t take away our health care!”
Since the election of Donald Trump, Michigan has seen dozens of protests, demonstrations and town halls, like the one in Kansas, to halt the effort to take away healthcare from more than 22 million Americans. The actions, many organized by the Michigan People’s Campaign, have been a chance for ordinary people to tell their stories and have their voices heard. And with each assault on the ACA, the public gatherings gained momentum as more and more people saw others with their same concerns in the streets. People who may have thought that their single voices didn’t matter began to see their elected officials were starting to listen to their combined voices.
Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI) had not met with his constituents since he was first elected. After organizing and staging several protests at Trott’s office in Troy starting in January, Michigan People’s Campaign held a protest and rally at Shain Park in Downtown Birmingham, on February 28th. The next day Trott announced a Town Hall to be held on March 17th.
Cherie Happy, a resident in Trott’s district, decided she needed to do something because she knew that if the ‘Affordable Care Act’ was replaced, health insurance companies would get the green light to deny health care coverage. “First they will deny people needing health care coverage the most. Those with pre-existing conditions are the most expensive to cover and health insurance companies are all about profits.” Happy said. “ This Republican congress is all about succumbing to the big money lobbyists.”
At her first protest at Trott’s office in Troy, Happy told of her daughter’s fight with cancer when she was only 23.”This was clearly the most horrible time in my life. I never talk about it because it is too painful. But I knew I had to use everything I could to preserve my daughter’s access to affordable health care.” Happy said. “I was one of the people who put a face on the people who would be hurt the most by repeal of the Affordable Care act.”
Joyce Peralta of Royal Oak was also very active in the Michigan defense of the ACA. “When I began to gather with others, I quickly recognized that together we could use our individual talents to make our voices heard in a stronger way than alone.” Peralta said. “We are more committed than ever-- we need to win this fight for affordable health care for for ourselves, for our children, and for our grandchildren.”
The Senate’s efforts to repeal and replace the ACA have been dealt several major blows, but Republicans are attempting to revive the plan. President Trump has said he will let “Obamacare collapse” and then Democrats will be forced to negotiate a new healthcare plan. If this new plan keeps all the campaign promises he made (no cuts to medicaid/medicare, lower premiums, universal coverage), there is already a model for that: Medicare for all. Defenders of the ACA would be happy to discuss that.