Obamacare supporters rally against
congressional repeal efforts
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[March 24, 2017]
By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Supporters of
Obamacare staged rallies across the country on Thursday denouncing
efforts by President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders
to repeal the landmark law that has extended medical insurance coverage
to some 20 million Americans.
Hundreds of demonstrators turned out in Washington, Chicago and Los
Angeles marking the seventh anniversary of enactment of Obamacare, as
the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has become widely known.
Many talked about a very personal stake in the outcome of the healthcare
debate roiling Capitol Hill.
"I feel sick today, but I came here because I'm terrified," said Steve
Martin, 27, an unemployed Los Angeles resident who was diagnosed with
cancer a year ago. "The legislators have the best healthcare in the
world, and we deserve the same."
The ACA, considered former Democratic President Barack Obama's premiere
domestic achievement, has drawn unrelenting scorn from Republicans, with
promises to repeal and replace it a centerpiece of Trump's presidential
Thursday's rallies coincided with planned action in the House of
Representatives on a Republican-backed bill to begin dismantling
Obamacare, but the vote was indefinitely postponed as Republican leaders
and the White House scrambled to muster enough votes for passage.
Many moderate Republicans as well as Democrats have raised concerns that
repeal-and-replace would leave too many Americans without health
Supporters of the bill say it would lower premiums, but critics counter
that those savings would in many cases be more than offset by higher
co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs.
Obamacare backers also worry about the fate of millions who gained
insurance under the bill's major expansion of Medicaid, the
federal-state program providing coverage for the needy, the elderly and
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Protesters demonstrate against U.S. President Donald Trump and his
plans to end Obamacare as they march to the White House in
Washington, U.S., March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
In the nation's capital, several hundred chanting protesters
gathered at Freedom Plaza, a few blocks from the White House,
carrying signs with slogans such as “We Fight Back" and "Keep
Robinette Barmer, 61, a former seamstress and caterer from Baltimore
now on a disability pension, said that without Obamacare she could
not afford the various medications she takes for ailments such as
asthma and high blood pressure.
“It’s co-pay this, co-pay that. I can’t pay that. I’m struggling as
it is right now,” she said.
After the rally, protesters marched a block to the Trump
International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, where several dozen
sprawled on the sidewalk in a "die-in" symbolizing the effect of
rolling back Obamacare. Some 24 protesters were arrested in front of
the White House after they refused get off the ground, organizers
Protest organizers said smaller gatherings were also held outside
the congressional district offices of various Republican lawmakers
around the country.
(Additional reporting by Olga Grigoryants in Los Angeles and Robert
Chiarito in Chicago; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Leslie
Adler and Michael Perry)
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