Mainers rally against proposed health care cuts

Mainers rally against proposed health care cuts

Chanting “everybody in nobody out, that’s what health care’s all about”, Mainers from Greater Portland area gathered in Congress Square park on Thursday to rally against devastating cuts to health care coverage proposed by President Trump and Congressional Republicans.

The rally comes as Maine’s Senators return home for May recess. It has been reported that the recess week is a crucial negotiation period for Senate Republicans trying to finalize their version of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Speakers shared how their lives, or the lives of their family members, would be affected by health care cuts as organizers collected handwritten messages in empty medicine bottles to deliver to Senator Collins.

“Because of the ACA I could afford and seek medical attention when I became debilitated by pain,” said Scarborough resident Stacia Davies, who relied on the ACA after she was diagnosed with precancerous polyps that required surgery and continuous follow up screenings. “Until the Affordable Care Act we could not afford health care. If it’s repealed, this could and would cost me over $18,000,” said Davies.

Davies also recounted how care provided through Medicaid saved her mother’s life after she suffered a debilitating heart attack.

“My mother was in a coma in intensive care for 14 days. She’s required months of rehabilitation and homecare since then. All of this would have cost our family millions of dollars and my parents likely would have lost their home. I’m so grateful for the care that Medicaid provided them. I urge Sen. Collins to reject any attempts that undermine health care for the millions of Americans like me, and like my mom.”

Lauren Ciszak, a family care physician from Portland, felt compelled to speak out because of the threat the GOP health care plan poses to her patients.

“Hospitals and healthcare professionals across the country have come out against the repeal of the ACA because we see the consequences firsthand. When people are without health coverage, they forgo preventative care, often until it is too late,” said Ciszak, as she recounted the story of an uninsured patient who ended up in the emergency room because of an undiagnosed heart disease. “We could have had his heart checked out, started him on the right medications, and likely prevented what happened that day. As primary care doctors, that’s our job. But we never got the chance.”

Cullen Ryan, who is the father of a Mainer with disabilities, spoke about the difficulties of transitioning his son to life after school and worried about what the proposed cuts to Medicaid would mean for his services.

“The Republican plan proposes billions of dollars of cuts Medicaid over the next 10 years.  This will leave people like my son, and the 6000 other people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Maine – out in the cold with no services,” said Ryan. “The proposed cuts will cause the safety net and support network for my son and others like him to fail. We should be supporting these services so people can do their best. It’s not only the most cost effective, but it is the right thing to do.”

Last week the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released their analysis of the Republican health care plan recently passed by the House. Their analysis found that the plan would increase the number of uninsured by 23 million as well increase premiums for millions more – especially older people and people with pre-existing conditions. The Center for American Progress estimates that more than 100,000 Mainers could be without coverage by 2026.

Organizers of the rally called on Senator Collins to reject any health care proposals that would reduce coverage for Mainers and cut funding for Medicaid.

“Sen. Collins’ vote on health care will have a direct impact on the lives of thousands of Maine families. We want her to think about the impact her vote will have on so many people and urge her reject any attempts to undermine health care for millions of Americans,” said April Humphrey of Mainers for Accountable Leadership. “We know that Mainers want more health care, not less. There is no middle ground when it comes to access to health care –and any bill that results in less care for any Mainer is unacceptable.”

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