By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Obamacare supporters held rallies across the country Thursday to denounce efforts by President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress to repeal the landmark law that has extended health insurance coverage to some 20 million Americans. .
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles to mark the seventh anniversary of the enactment of Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has become widely known.
Many spoke of a very personal interest in the outcome of the health debate affecting the Capitol.
“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. “Legislators have the best healthcare in the world and we deserve the same.”
The ACA, considered the major national achievement of former Democratic President Barack Obama, has drawn relentless contempt from Republicans, with promises to repeal it and replace it as the centerpiece of Trump’s presidential campaign.
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 postponed indefinitely as Republican leaders and the White House scrambled to gather enough votes to your approval.
Many moderate Republicans, as well as Democrats, have expressed concern that repeal and replacement would leave too many Americans without health coverage.
Supporters of the bill say it would lower premiums, but critics respond that those savings in many cases would be more than offset by higher copays and other out-of-pocket costs.
Obamacare supporters also worry about the fate of millions of people who obtained insurance under the great expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides coverage for the needy, the elderly and the disabled.
In the nation’s capital, several hundred protesters gathered in Freedom Plaza, a few blocks from the White House, holding signs with slogans such as “We Fight” and “Keep America Healthy.”
Robinette Barmer, 61, a former Baltimore seamstress and caterer who now receives a disability pension, said that without Obamacare she would not be able to pay for the various medications she takes for ailments such as asthma and high blood pressure.
“This is a copayment, that is a copayment. I can’t afford that. I’m fighting like I am now, ”he said.
After the rally, protesters marched a block to the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, where several dozen were spilled onto the sidewalk in a “death” symbolizing the effect of rolling back Obamacare. About 24 protesters were arrested outside the White House after they refused to take off, organizers said.
Organizers of the protest said smaller gatherings were also held outside the Congressional district offices of various Republican lawmakers across the country.
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