2017-02-24 / Front Page

Demonstrators speak out for ObamaCare

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Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — Advocates of ObamaCare held a demonstration outside the office of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Thursday morning.

About 70 people gathered on the sidewalk outside the 160 Main St. office, many holding bright yellow signs with pictures of stethoscopes.

The demonstration was coordinated through Organizing for Action, a non-partisan, issue advocacy organization.

Marc Malon, a Biddeford resident and an organizer with Organizing for Action said he was the staff member at the event. “These are all grassroots folks,” he said. The group  wanted to demonstrate outside Collin's office in support of ObamaCare, which demonstrators say is working and it should be preserved and strengthened, not repealed without an adequate replacement.

The demonstrators, in small groups, were allowed into Collins’ office.

“I feel stressed and anguished with the direction this country is taking,” Carol Scheffler of Cape Elizabeth said to a staff member at Collins’ office, who took notes.

Scheffler said there was a general feeling that “President Trump doesn’t care” and Congress seems to be going along with whatever he’s proposing, and not standing up to him. “It’s really disheartening to see what we thought was a democracy and a welcoming country being something far different than that."

“A lot of us have benefited from provisions in the Affordable Care Act,” said Patricia Boston, a Biddeford resident and president of the American Nurses Association Maine. Some of the positive benefits include being covered for pre-existing conditions when changing health plans, allowing coverage on their parent's health care plan for those up to age 26, and the elimination of life-time limits on coverage. She said her son, who is a small business owner, was able to purchase health insurance through ObamaCare.
“There are just so many benefits that a lot of people have enjoyed, and I don’t think alot of people realize those came about with the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare,” she said. 

Annie Clark, communications director for Collins, said in an email that the U.S. Senator meets with thousands of constituents every year and she really values their input.

“Today, even with the ACA in full effect, nearly 30 million Americans remain without coverage.  Those who do have coverage are experiencing huge spikes in premium costs, deductibles, and co-pays.  Here in Maine, premiums on the Exchange will rise an average of 22 percent this year.  Doing nothing cannot be an option for it would strand millions without affordable health insurance," said Clark.

Clark said Collins was one of the first republicans to call for the creation of a detailed framework to replace the Affordable Care Act prior to repealing the law.

"She introduced the first comprehensive replacement bill in the Senate last month, the Patient Freedom Act, that would reduce costs, provide more choices, and increase access to health care.  It also retains consumer protections, such as protecting those with pre-existing conditions.  Sen. Collins is focused on fixing the system to ensure that it is truly sustainable and affordable," said Clark.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com.

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