Group seeks to protect Affordable Care Act
Some voice concerns to Hoyer about health insurance costs
The Women’s March on Washington in January was the first step toward effective change in the country, for the Together We Will — Southern Maryland Chapter. Now the organization has decided to team up with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) in order to tackle the health security of their families.
Since 2014, more than 20 million Americans received health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. As the new administration attempts to repeal the act, many Americans fear the worst. However, the members of TWW say the fight is not over yet.
On Feb. 18, the day of national action to protect
the ACA, Hoyer met with members of Together We Will — Southern Mary- land Chapter, at a home in Lexington Park to discuss how the repeal would im- pact the region. Hoyer said he believes the TWW is reflective and indicative of the extraordinary ener- gy and concern that exists in the country.
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a plan to replace it will have a devastating impact on Marylanders — 347,000 would lose health coverage, including 60,000 children, and many families could see their health costs skyrocket,” Hoyer said in a release. “I thank Together We Will for attending the Women’s March on Washington and looking for additional opportunities to get involved and I look forward to working together to educate the community about what is at stake if the ACA is repealed and advocate for policies that will ensure a stronger future for all of us.”
Julia Nichols, the group’s Southern Maryland chapter liaison, said chapter leaders were able to talk with Hoyer about the organization’s goals and making connections in order to help move their ideas forward.
“I like the fact that he is listening to his constituents which is important for all of our members of Congress and any of our representatives to remember that they work for the people,” Nichols said. “I hope we can do more to provide woman-power for some of the things that need to be done. We have 2,200 people and we can mobilize them so quickly because of our Facebook group.”
After the 2016 election, friends Casey Grenier, Kimberly Dungey, Samantha Field and Christine DalBello formed a local chapter of the Facebook group Pantsuit Nation. In order to become more politically active, they changed the name to become affiliated with the national group Together We Will. The local group now has about 2,200 members in Southern Maryland and aims to support, engage and change their community through informing others and taking action on local, state and federal levels of government.
Hoyer discussed how the ACA benefits individuals with pre-existing conditions, young adults remaining on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26, lifetime limits, annual limits and preventive care. He said his goal is to energize people all over the country and get those who are concerned about their families and community to become engaged.
During the gathering, members of the group ex- pressed how the ACA has affected them personally.
“The ACA made my small-business dreams come true. If it goes away I will likely have to close my doors and go back to a job that is through an agency that offers health
insurance. The other issue is that the clients that I do have will be left without a therapist and coverage. It affects me personally, so I’m terri- fied but also very brave, and the ‘nasty woman’ is coming out,” said Rebec- ca Pinckney of BLOOM Wellness LLC.
“My mom is covered because of the Affordable Care Act and she didn’t have medical insurance for a long time before that, so please keep it. We need it,” said Wrenn Heisler, who hosted the meeting at her home south of Lex- ington Park.
Christine Bergmark of Lexington Park said she lost her job last year. By law, she needs to have health insurance — but it is too costly. “I have a family of three. One of the insurance options is approximately $1,400 a month or $16,000 a year. How does one pay that when they do not have a job? I don’t want to repeal the ACA, but I do want to see it fixed. I also want to hear more from the doctors who appear to be left out of this,” Bergmark said.
North Beach resident and small business owner Anne Sundermann agreed. “I’m so pleased to have the Affordable Care Act come in. However, I am having trouble with the affordable part,” Sundermann said. “In 2015, I paid $259 a month; in 2016, I paid $318 a month; in 2017, I paid $531 a month. I can’t afford this as a single business owner.”
Mechanicsville resident JoeAnne Pellini assured Hoyer that the organization plans to sustain its efforts, continue to be heard and get the House of Representatives and Senate to pay attention to their cause.
“We will ... because we’re all in this together,” Hoyer said.
“I’ve never seen a time when I thought the basic interests of America were at risk,” Hoyer said. “Some children have diabetes, birth defects and heart problems and now they can get health insurance through the ACA ... I have met with all of the CEOs of the hospitals in Southern Maryland this past week to ask them what they thought. A majority of them believe repealing the ACA would lead to very bad consequences for hospitals in Southern Maryland.”
Waldorf resident Molly McCloskey wants to make sure the group is contacting the right local representatives to voice their opinions about the ACA. She is also hopeful that local representatives will work hard to make sure local families can thrive with affordable health insurance.
“I think social media and groups like Pantsuit Nation, which evolved outward, have changed the definition of ‘local,’” McCloskey said. “I know there are reasonable people on both sides of the aisle [in the Senate and in Congress] who could litigate this outside the Sunday morning talk shows and come to the reasonable important decisions to make this work for everyone.”
Above, The Together We Will — Southern Maryland Chapter gathered at a private home in Lexington Park with Rep. Steny Hoyer to discuss health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Right, Many women who were peaceful protestors at the Women’s March on Washington in January also attended the Together We Will — Southern Maryland Chapter meeting with Rep. Steny Hoyer in Lexington Park last Saturday.
Rep. Steny Hoyer talked about health care with members of Together We Will — Southern Maryland Chapter last weekend.
Mechanicsville resident JoeAnne Pellini sports a “Nasty Woman” T-shirt and Fort Washington resident Heather Gratton shows off her Women’s March On Washington T-shirt at the Together We Will — Southern Maryland Chapter meeting on Saturday.
Rep. Steny Hoyer discussed the Affordable Care Act with members of the Together We Will — Southern Maryland Chapter last Saturday in Lexington Park.