People who depend on the Affordable Care Act for health coverage rallied Monday to support it after President Donald Trump last week, again, declared war on the ACA. The president backs a federal lawsuit in Texas that seeks to overturn the ACA (or Obamacare).
“We’re coming together, once again, to call out Donald Trump for trying to take us backward,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) at the rally in Jersey City. “Trump’s latest decision literally jeopardizes quality, affordable healthcare for hundreds of millions of Americans. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not.”
New Jersey is home to 3.8 million people with pre-existing conditions, including people like diabetic Scott Fishbone, who fear they could struggle to find affordable healthcare insurance without Obamacare.
“I’m terrified, absolutely terrified,” said Fishbone. “What are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to ration your insulin because you can’t afford it, or not go for your dialysis treatments, or stop using your pump? Essentially right in the middle of where you’d need it, you’d run out of coverage.”
“Healthcare should be universal. We shouldn’t have to worry about paying for healthcare. We should be taken care of, whether we have diabetes, sickle cell, high blood pressure, whatever the case may be,” said Newark resident Dominique Goodson.
Even Republicans caught off guard
Trump’s recent renewed attack on Obamacare caught even Republicans in Congress off guard.
“He thinks that that’s the one area where we’ve fallen short,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said, “and he wants to see us address it. He made that very clear.”
“We’ve made it better, but it’s still horrible, no good. It’s something that we can’t live with in this country, because it’s far too expensive for the people,” Trump said on March 27. “We are going to be — the Republicans — the party of great healthcare,”
“I would listen. I mean, they’ve said this before, this isn’t our first go-round. They’ve said it before. They haven’t really proposed anything of substance,” said Erika Hanke of Jersey City.
Healthcare premiums in New Jersey actually decreased 9 percent this year, and Gov. Phil Murphy announced the state is taking steps to establish its own exchange to administer the ACA by 2020.
Worried about ‘huge financial strain’
The ACA lets almost 60,000 young adults in New Jersey stay on their parents’ policies until they turn 26. Donna Ward’s son depends on that.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, honestly what he would do, if he couldn’t get healthcare coverage. If we had to pay outright for his care, that could be a huge financial strain to us,” she said.
More than half a million New Jerseyans are covered by Medicaid expansion. Advocates say Obamacare pays for addiction treatment and mental health care, considered essential ACA benefits.
“Despite all of Trump’s campaign promises about better, cheaper healthcare, Trumpcare has always meant no care,” Menendez said.
Congress plans to vote this week on a resolution condemning the president’s decision not to defend the ACA. However, the battle will probably be decided in the courts.