About 40 people came out to Courthouse Plaza Sunday in Lexington to protest the intended dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, which has had a notable impact in Kentucky in the past 7 years.
Tyler Murphy, the organizer of the rally, said their concerns go beyond the law.
“We’re not just dealing with dollars and cents,” he said. “We’re not just dealing with policies and laws. We’re dealing with people’s lives and healthcare in particular is a matter of life and death, literally.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010 by President Barack Obama. Since its passage, more than 400,000 Kentuckians have gained insurance. In national media, Kentucky has been frequently used as an example of states that have shrunk the number of uninsured residents as a result of the law.
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A few key components of the law include prohibiting insurance companies from rescinding coverage when customers get sick and requiring most individuals to have health insurance or potentially pay a fine.
Many prominent Republicans in the federal government have vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, including President-elect Donald Trump. However, Trump has not explained how he plans to do it. According to the Washington Post, on Friday the House of Representatives passed a 2017 budget that lays the groundwork for its repeal.
The rally in Lexington was one of several organized across the nation to highlight the proposed dismantling. One rally in Michigan, attended by current senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, brought out thousands into the freezing cold according to the Associated Press.
“This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world. It is time we got our national priorities right,” Sanders told the rally.
Some of rally attendees in Lexington held signs that read “Save the ACA” and “Make America Sick Again.” The crowd also shared personal stories about how the Affordable Care Act has affected them. Some of them, afflicted with a ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, spoke about how the ACA made it easier for them to acquire the medicine they needed.
Sandra Bennett, who was accompanied by her husband, Douglas, was one of the first speakers at the rally.
Sandra Bennett spoke about her son who received insurance through the Affordable Care Act. She said her son might lose his health insurance if it’s dismantled.
“This is the worst thing imaginable that could happen to us,” she said.
Murphy, who graduated from Transylvania College in 2010, said the Affordable Care Act has benefited him as it allowed him to stay on his parents’ insurance after he graduated from college and was looking for a job. A provision of the Affordable Care Act allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they turn 26 years old.
He encouraged the rally attendees to call their representatives and voice their concerns about the repeal.
“Just because Republicans control the Congress does not mean we don’t have a voice,” he said.