It was a crisp Tuesday morning when close to 100 citizens gathered outside Senator Tillis’ office in Raleigh. It was Valentine’s Day, but not everyone was feeling love from their politicians. With Congress attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the General Assembly suing Governor Cooper for trying to expand Medicaid, it seems as though some politicians are heartless.
That’s why hundreds of North Carolinians took part in five Valentine’s Day health care rallies in Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Asheville, and Wilmington. The message to politicians in Raleigh and Washington was loud and clear: Have a heart and don’t gut health care!
When we arrived that morning, dozens of local MoveOn and Indivisible activists were marching proudly in front of the Senator Tillis’ office, demanding that the absent senator hold a town hall meeting. They’ve been protesting every Tuesday for a few weeks now, and have been told by Senator Tillis’ office that he has no plans to hold any town hall events.
As we set up for the event, activists eagerly filled out Valentine’s Day Cards to be delivered to Senator Tillis’ office. As the crowd filled out the cards asking Senator Tillis to “have a heart,” they broke out into song, singing “This Land Is Your Land.” Propped up against a tree, a cut out representing the absent senator looked on.
While the chants, songs and energy were inspiring, this event was really about highlighting the folks who’ve relied on the ACA, and will lose big if it’s repealed. John Pagliuca told the crowd about his struggle with a preexisting condition, and how the Affordable Care Act allowed him to have health insurance without being discriminated against. “I’m a small business owner with a preexisting condition, and I struggled every year for 24 years to find health insurance,” John explained. “I was stuck until the ACA, when I was able to get affordable, comprehensive health insurance without worrying that an insurance company could kick me out.”
Then Michael Greenspan, who also suffers from a preexisting condition, echoed John’s sentiments. “As a type 2 insulin diabetic, and having undergone double hip replacement surgery in 2016, my affordable health insurance through the ACA has given me a new lease on life,” Michael told the crowd. “The ACA has had a life changing impact on my life,” Greenspan added. “I would not have been able to walk the four blocks from where I parked my car for the rally without the ACA.”
We also heard from Joan Dulberg, a senior who falls into the donut hole and Ellen Beidler, an oncology nurse who spoke powerfully about how the ACA has literally saved her patients’ life.
After those personal stories, Brendan Riley, who works at the North Carolina Justice Center, explained the impact of repealing the ACA without a replacement. Repealing the ACA would result in 76,000 jobs lost in North Carolina and would leave one million North Carolinians uninsured. Nationally, 2.6 million jobs are projected to be lost and 30 million citizens would be left uninsured.
That’s a cost we simply cannot afford.
Ready to fight back and help protect the ACA? Visit: ResistNC.org and join the Carolina Resistance!