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Taking Our First Stand to "Keep Us Covered"
Republicans took a significant first step toward repealing the federal healthcare law just three days before the coordinated actions. Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted to approve a budget resolution to begin dismantling the ACA, also referred to as "Obamacare."
"As a union of health professionals and educators, we've seen firsthand how the ACA has saved lives and created healthier communities," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "Now all of this is going to be ripped away as Republicans play a political game with no serious proposal for replacing the law." she added.
Click here for press reporting on congressional Republicans' votes to begin repealing Obamacare.
President Donald Trump a week later — on his first day in office — signed an executive order aimed at weakening the ACA.
Crowds gathered at more than 70 events from California to Maine that were part of the January 15 coordinated actions spearheaded by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The effort inspired thousands who came out to hear from federal and state elected officials as well as people who had stories about how Obamacare has helped them.
"For seven years, we've been listening to Republicans in Congress tell us that they're going to repeal the Affordable Care Act and then replace it with something else," U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy told the crowd gathered in Hartford. "Well, now this lie is exposed. They are not going to replace the Affordable Care Act with anything. They're going to repeal the Affordable Care Act and do nothing," he said.
Click here for press reporting on efforts by Connecticut's congressional delegation to protect residents' access to affordable care.
"By rallying we're not saying the ACA is perfect or that our nation's healthcare system doesn’t need improvement," said Ivonne Hamm, RN (above, second from right in first row), a member of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated University Health Professionals union. "What we are saying is that we expect Congress to strengthen it and fix what's not working — not leave millions without coverage," added Hamm, a nurse in the Electro Convulsive Therapy Department at UConn Health in Farmington.
Before the reforms in the ACA were enacted, nurses like Hamm would see many more patients seeking emergency treatment because they weren't getting the preventive or regular care they needed. According to a Gallup study in 2014, about 15 million Americans who didn't have health insurance before the ACA was signed into law in 2010, were then covered. Estimates for the number of people who would now lose access to coverage if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement range from 20 to 20 million.
"I've spent much of the past seven years advocating for improvements to the ACA," said Mary Moninger-Elia (above, far right in first row), a retired member of our West Haven Federation of Teachers. "We've come a long way; too far to allow extremists in Congress or a new president with a radical agenda to turn back the clock," added Moninger-Elia, who educated students in West Haven Public Schools for 33 years.
Click here for more background on the ACA and the improvements made since its passage.
In addition to protesting, health professionals across the country handed out leaflets in their facilities, mobilized community members to call members of Congress and participated in social media campaigns. Since the January 15 actions, the focus has turned to President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Health & Human Services (HSS), who has publicly called for repeal of Obamacare.
Click here to sign and share our national union's petition telling Congress that Trump's choice is wrong for the federal health department.