Several York and Lancaster county protesters said Tuesday that repealing the Affordable Care Act without a viable and immediate replacement is “irresponsible,” and called on U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to vote accordingly.
Close to 25 protesters marched on Graham’s Rock Hill office to deliver handwritten letters and stories of their positive experiences with the ACA. Many said an immediate repeal would leave them or their families in danger.
“We’re the richest country in the world and not everybody has healthcare,” said 80-year-old Walter Renninghoff, a local supporter of the law. “In England, in France, all over the world, but we can’t afford it? No way.”
The federal statute was enacted by former President Barack Obama in 2010, and has earned the nickname “Obamacare.” It represents the most significant regulatory overhaul of the American health care system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
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President Donald Trump has quickly made it his administration’s policy to seek the “prompt repeal” of the health care law, and called the law “a catastrophic event.”
The march, led by Indian Land Democrats Club chair Cliff Musante, brought like-minded protesters from a broad range of ages and backgrounds.
Charlotte native Tyler Reed said he has attended a few ACA rallies in the area. The 24-year-old is currently on his father’s health care plan, and is hoping to remain on it until age 26.
“But if there’s immediate repeal, I’m left with nothing, and have to pay out of pocket,” he said. “It’s hard for me, because I’m a part-time worker and full-time student.”
Musante called on Graham to “be thoughtful” about his support for repeal. He said he wanted Graham to consider all options to reform health care within the ACA, rather than take it away.
“Why don’t we get to choose between the ACA that we know and the program they intend to create,” Musante said. “It doesn’t give us a choice at all, just their slection of the program.”
Trump, a Republican, and his vice president, Mike Pence, easily won York County last November on Election Day. Trump/Pence earned more than 58 percent of the vote in York County, while Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton garnered just 36 percent of the vote.
A group of protesters was scheduled to march on Graham’s office 4 p.m. Tuesday to ask the senator for a town hall meeting in York County before the end of Trump’s first 100 days.
The group is expected to engage Graham on issues such as possible Russian interference with the election, Obamacare, and the president’s executive order banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Some protesters at Tuesday’s rally expressed their frustration with Michael Flynn, Trump’s former pick as national security adviser.
Flynn resigned late Monday from his position after several media outlets reported that Flynn was under investigation by U.S. counterintelligence agents for communications with Russian officials.
Indian Land resident Patricia Hagerty said the resignation raises concerns with the president. She said she was disappointed that Trump had not released his tax returns. She said she believes they might reveal connections to Russian interests.
“I thought it was important to get the message across that he has to come clean about Russia,” Hagerty said. “(Flynn) was with Trump constantly on the (campaign), saying how if he did this, this and this, like Hillary Clinton did, he would be in jail.”