By Mrinal Gokhale
Retired nurse Pat Rego stepped up to the microphone at Candela’s Banquet & Conference Facility on Sunday, Jan 15. Standing around Rego was a huge crowd of people holding signs with phrases like “Dump Trump,” “Obamacare Saves Lives” and “Stop Repel.”
Rego detailed her reasons for supporting the Affordable Care Act, which may be taken away by Congress.
“I had patients coming in my office crying because they may lose their insurance,” she began. “Choosing not to see medical professionals due to lack of insurance and therefore ending up in the emergency room, which we know is very costly, is more expensive than routine medical care.”
Senator Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep Gwen Moore Organized the event, and the rally was Bernie Sander’s national day of action done to support the ACA, and protest against massive funding cuts to Planned Parenthood and Medicaid by Republicans.
This particular rally attracted hundreds, filling maximum capacity in Candela’s. There was a huge line of people outside as well. One of the ACA provisions stated that individuals under 26 years old could remain under their parent’s insurance. This part of the ACA may be taken away. One man who introduced himself as a physician from the Milwaukee area said he felt this was harmful.
“My son is 26, and he will not have and won’t be able to afford healthcare insurance if this feature is removed,” he said. “The core features are impossible if the individual mandate is eliminated.”
Senator Baldwin, who spoke last, shared with her audience how she had pre-existing health conditions since childhood, which prevented her from getting the healthcare she needed. “I was raised by my grandparents. Try as they might, they couldn’t find coverage for me at any price,” Baldwin said. “I went until college without any health insurance.”
She also told the crowd some stories of those she knew who were affected by pre-existing health conditions and the ACA. “I know a woman whose daughter had congenital heart disease and needed surgery at five days old,” Baldwin said.
“Under the Affordable Care Act, her mother didn’t have to worry about getting insurance for her daughter or hitting some sort of artificial annual or lifetime cap on coverage.”
Members and volunteers from social justice and nonprofit organizations such as Voces de la Frontera, Citizens Action of Wisconsin, SEIU and Planned Parenthood attended to ask people to sign a petition in support of Obamacare. Some other Wisconsin cities that participated in this national day of action were Wausau, LaCrosse and Appleton.