Helena rally will push back on potential ACA repeal

Helena Independent Record – January 15, 2017

A 1 p.m. rally is planned for Sunday at the Capitol rotunda to show grassroots support for retaining health care programs that affect millions across the nation.

The Helena rally will be among several Save Our Healthcare rallies that are also being held in Bozeman and Missoula that day, according to a news release.

The event is also partnering with another organization, Our Revolution Helena, which grew out of the Bernie Sanders organization, said Sandi Luckey, chairwoman of the Lewis and Clark Democratic Central Committee.

When looking at the really devastating events in history, people realize they should have stood up sooner for their beliefs, Luckey said.

“We’re not going to be those people,” she explained, adding that people are acting now while the fate of health insurance coverage for 30 million people is being decided in Congress.

“This has that potential to be that line in the sand. This is people’s lives,” Luckey added.

She questioned whether anything more personal could be targeted than a person’s ability to stay alive and to thrive at home and on the job.

“If they take away our rights, access to quality health care, what else will they take away?” she asked.

The Bernie Sanders website, berniesanders.com/ourfirststand, leaves no doubt it’s challenging the bid by the Republican controlled U.S. House and Senate to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

 “At a time when the United States remains the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all as a right, the Republicans want to throw nearly 30 million people off of health insurance, make massive cuts to Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood. At the same time, in the midst of a grotesque and growing level of income and wealth inequality, they want obscene tax breaks for the top one-tenth of 1 percent.

“On Sunday, January 15, Democratic members of Congress, trade unions, senior groups, health care activists and all those who believe in economic and social justice are organizing a day of action to tell Republicans loudly and clearly: You are not going to get away with it,” the website message stated.

Among those slated to speak at the Helena rally is Minority Leader Rep. Jenny Eck, D-Helena, who in the news release stated, “The new administration wants to eliminate the hard-fought consumer protections and benefits now in federal law. They don’t seem to understand the pain and hardship this could cause thousands of Montana families. I hope people will join us Sunday, share their stories and let Washington know that this reckless rollback, if allowed to continue, will have real consequences for real people.”

Additional speakers will include Rep. Kim Abbott, D-Helena; Rev. Robyn Morrison; Dr. Paul Donaldson; and others who say they will be directly harmed if the Affordable Care Act is repealed and replaced.

 According to a new report by the Montana Budget and Policy Center, 142,000 Montanans face uncertainty concerning health care coverage with the threat of Affordable Care Act repeal and a drastic Montana Medicaid cutback, which would affect the 61,000 Montanans who gained health care under the Montana Medicaid expansion, the news release stated.

So many people would not be able to afford health care or insurance premiums without the Affordable Care Act and would die early, said Frank Kromkowski, of Our Revolution Helena.

“Our message is simple and straightforward: You are not going to get away with it. You are not going to punish the elderly, disabled veterans, the children, the sick and the poor while you reward your wealthy friends who have no problem affording health care,” he stated in the news release.

Everyone knows someone who has some horrible story of being denied by an insurance company for no good reason other than they could do it, Kromkowski said. 

Insurance and pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making money, not providing health care, he said, adding, “Medicare works. If you expand it for everybody, I think that’s the best solution.”

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