On the eve of the Congressional debate on the proposed GOP health care bill known as the American Health Care Act, Rights & Democracy made a dual capitol stand—in Montpelier and Washington, DC—to protest its passage.
Resistance to the GOP health care bill has been building for months, including here in Vermont. That resistance has made passage uncertain, despite Republicans controlling both the Congress and the White House.
In Montpelier, dozens of people gathered in the State House to deliver open letter signed by more than three thousand Vermont residents to Republican Governor Phil Scott asking him to publicly oppose the GOP’s AHCA. To date, Gov. Scott has ignored Rights & Democracy’s requests to speak out against these disastrous health care proposals, or meet with Vermonters to talk about health care.
“I believe it is our responsibility to lift everyone up. I believe that if I, or you, are fortunate enough to be healthy then we have a responsibility to care for those who are not,” said Brenda Siegel, a RAD health care leader from Newfane. “I don't buy into the idea that people who can't afford health care need to somehow suffer because they could have done something differently. I don't believe that health care is a privilege. I believe that health care is a right.”
Gov. Scott will have one more chance to meet with Vermonters at a Health Care Town Hall on April 20 in Barre. And, Rights & Democracy will continue to collect signatures to our letter to Gov. Scott until he offers a public answer. More than 2000 people have signed the petition this week alone, and the number continues to climb. A sign that the more Vermonters hear about the GOP plans, the less they like it.
“Gov. Phil Scott: We need you to stand up against these cuts. This is your job, this is your moral imperative,” said Eric Day, a medical student at the University Medical Center in Burlington, VT, and one of several speakers who called on Scott to make a firm, public stand against the AHCA. “It’s disheartening to be talking about such bad legislation when we could be talking about innovate ways to help people.”
Speakers at the rally spoke of their personal struggles, and the impact that losing the Affordable Care Act, or Medicaid, could have on them and their families. As Vermont’s Governor, Scott has a unique opportunity to stand with Vermonters in resisting these harmful policies.
Following the lead of other Republican governors, Vermonters are calling on Scott to protect Vermonters’ health care by:
- Telling President Trump, Speaker Ryan, and Senator McConnell that you oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the repeal of the Medicaid expansion,
- Publicly opposing any effort to turn Medicaid into a block grant or to cap federal funding for Medicaid,
- Supporting the efforts of Vermonters to improve our state’s health care system and ensure high quality health care is accessible to us all, today and in the future.
In Washington, DC, RAD Lead Organizer Elise Greaves was one of 24 activists arrested in front of the White House. They were calling on Congress to vote no on gutting the Affordable Care Act as part of a Center for Popular Democracy rally and march. Earlier in the day, a delegation marched to Speaker Paul Ryan’s office.
“The 24 of us represent the 24 million people—including tens of thousands of Vermonters—who would lose their healthcare under the GOP’s repeal and “replace” plan. This plan will only serve folks who can afford it and will kill people who cannot. All of us need to be raising our voices and speaking up for those who are voiceless in this debate to make sure this bill doesn’t pass—not today, not ever,” said Greaves. “We need to create a healthcare system that puts people and their right to healthy and dignified lives over corporate interests and profits, not the other way around.”
In January, Rights and Democracy (RAD) and Main Street Alliance VT publicized a new Health Care for America Now (HCAN) report on the impact of dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on individuals and on Vermont’s economy. The report, titled “A Cost Too High,” details how repeal would take away coverage from thousands of Vermonters, will roll back the expansion of Medicaid and could eliminate coverage that more than 70,000 Vermonters. This could have a direct impact on Vermonters’ physical well-being and quality of life. In addition, these proposals will cut funding from our already overstretched state budget, cost our state jobs, undermine our health care providers, and compromise Vermont’s efforts to address the opiate epidemic.
There have been four standing-room only rallies to #SaveHealthcare held across the state in Burlington, Montpelier, Bennington, and Rutland as part of national calls to action led by Senator Bernie Sanders.