With signs and chants of “Ho ho, hey hey, the ACA is here to stay,” 20 Virginia Organizing protestors took to Main Street in Danville on Wednesday to fight for Obamacare, Medicare and other federal health care programs threatened by President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-dominated Congress.
“We need it,” said Danville resident Catherine Fitzgerald. “We need better health care for people out here.”
Republicans have the power to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Trump campaigned on repealing the legislation, and many lawmakers have voiced support for repeal and delay — killing off the law by a certain date and then working to craft a replacement bill before the date arrives.
Until the Affordable Care Act, Danville resident Matt Bailey and his wife simply couldn’t afford health insurance.
“It’s hard to afford health care,” Bailey said. “The most basic coverage for us was going to be $600 a month.”
Now, Bailey is able to afford insurance for his whole family. He also sees the effects of coverage gaps working as a nurse. He said dying patients are unable to afford Hospice care, and cannot live with their loved ones during the last days of their lives.
“There are a lot of really vulnerable people in our state that are suffering because of the lack of access to health care,” he said.
Catherine Fitzgerald said her health coverage under Medicare personally saved her life a few years ago. After going on assistance for fibromyalgia, cancer screenings were able to identify and operate on tumors related to breast cancer.
Additionally, two of Fitzgerald’s sisters have received help with surgery and treatment related to heart disease.
“It’s not only me,” she said. “It’s a lot of people out there.”
A few years ago, the Virginia General Assembly refused to accept federal funding to eliminate the Medicaid coverage gap, citing future funding concerns. Fitzgerald said the choice literally put lives on the line.
“It doesn’t stop their medical problems from going on,” she said.
Fitzgerald said Trump and the GOP should leave the ACA alone.
“Don’t touch it,” she said. “If anything, increase it.”
Trevor Metcalfe reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (434) 791-7983.