WARREN, Mich. (AP) — Thousands of people showed up in freezing temperatures on Sunday at a community college in Michigan where Sen. Bernie Sanders called on Americans to resist Republican efforts to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, one of a number of rallies Democrats staged across the country to highlight opposition.
People lined up four abreast for the length of 3 or 4 football fiends waiting to get in to the rally in the parking lot of Macomb County Community College in the Detroit suburb of Warren. Labor unions were a strong presence at the rally with several signs for the UAW, which represents auto workers. People also carried signs including “Save our Health Care,” and “Michigan Stands.”
Lisa Bible, 45, of Bancroft, Michigan, was one of those who came to show support for the law. She said that she has an auto immune disease and high cholesterol. She says the ACA has been an answer to her and her husband’s prayers, but she worries that if it’s repealed her family may get stuck with her medical bills.
“I’m going to get really sick and my life will be at risk,” she said.
President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to overturn and replace the Affordable Care Act and majority Republicans in Congress this week began the process of repealing it using a budget maneuver that only requires a bare majority in the Senate to pass.
“This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world. It is time we got our national priorities right,” Sanders told the rally.
He has been one of the strongest advocates for the health care law, which has delivered health coverage to about 20 million people but is saddled with problems such as rapidly rising premiums and large co-payments.
Sanders made several visits to the state last year during the Michigan primary and on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He defeated her in the primary and attracted huge crowds during his stops, including one in Warren and another in nearby Ypsilanti, Michigan. But in a major surprise, Michigan narrowly voted for Trump on Nov. 8, the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the state since 1988.
The health law has provided subsidies and Medicaid coverage for millions who don’t get insurance at work. It has required insurers to cover certain services such as family planning and people who are already ill, and has placed limits on the amount that the sick and elderly can be billed for health care.
Republicans want to end the fines that enforce the requirement that many individuals buy coverage and that larger companies provide it to workers — mandates that experts say were needed to stabilize insurers’ rates. They’d like to expand health savings accounts, erase the taxes Obama’s law imposed on higher-income people and the health care industry, eliminate the subsidies that help people buy policies and pare back its Medicaid expansion for the poor.
But they face internal disagreements over policy, such as how to pay for any replacement and how to protect consumers and insurers during what could be a two- or three-year phase-out of the existing health program.
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