Four Democratic hopefuls for governor spoke at an Annapolis rally supporting the Affordable Care Act.
Addressing hundreds of people at a rally in the District on Saturday evening, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on Americans to continue pressing for the updating and improvement of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.
Her speech in Freedom Plaza came in the wake of the failure last week of a Republican effort to partially repeal the act. The effort was to be the Senate Republicans’ first step in replacing President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.
Speakers at the rally told of how valuable the ACA had been to them and their families. People in the crowd held placards with messages such as “Save Lives, Save ACA.”
The D.C. rally — and others like it nationwide, including Annapolis — had been planned before the early morning vote in the Senate that doomed the Republicans’ effort.
Exhorting her listeners not to be satisfied with last week’s Senate action, Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged them to keep the pressure on.
What had developed through the lobbying against the Republicans’ plans, she said, is a widely shared belief “that health care is a right for all, not a privilege for just a few.”
“We have to improve and update the Affordable Care Act,” she said. Moreover, she added, “We want to do so in a bipartisan way.”
That, she said, could be done only “with your continued in- volvement.”
Like the D.C. rally, the Annapolis protest also heard from people who said they had benefited from the ACA. They included Chrissy Holt, 50, and her husband, Art, 55.
They said they have been to about 10 marches in the past six months in hopes that someone will hear them. The couple’s 22year-old son has severe hemophilia A, and they fear that he might not get the medication he needs. Holt said she believes universal health care is a “human right.”
“It’s scary because there’s not a lot of people here,” she said after the rally on Lawyers Mall. “I wish more people cared and [would] stop voting for people who don’t care.”
Four of the five declared gubernatorial candidates spoke before the small crowd in Annapolis on Saturday morning, cheering whenever a speaker criticized the state’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, for what they viewed as his overly measured response to congressional Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace the ACA.
Gubernatorial candidate and Baltimore technology entrepreneur Alec Ross (D) told the crowd about his 10-year-old son’s experience with a potentially lifethreatening thyroid condition, for which he was able to receive treatment because of the family’s health insurance plan.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who is also running for governor, talked about his wife’s struggles with Alzheimer’s disease, which left her without her memory and the ability to talk and walk.
Benjamin Jealous, former NAACP president and gubernatorial contender, told a story about a friend who came to him crying after a rally in Montgomery County.
That friend, he said, recently lost his girlfriend when she had a seizure and could not afford health care.
“This is about all of us. This is about all of our families. It’s about all of our circles of friends,” Jealous said to cheers.
State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), who spent nearly 15 years as a state lawmaker and would be the state’s first openly gay governor, lambasted Hogan for refusing to either sign or veto a bill that reimburses Planned Parenthood clinics in the state if they are defunded by Congress.
“He hid,” Madaleno said. “Don’t believe his rhetoric about wanting to work together, because he really doesn’t want to work with us.”
Gubernatorial candidate James L. Shea, an attorney and former chair of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, did not attend.
About a dozen people stood behind the rally’s speakers, holding signs in support of the ACA and Planned Parenthood.
The speakers emphasized that the existence of the ACA is made possible by constituents making their voices heard at events across the country.