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Monday, January 16, 2017

Save Our Healthcare Rally

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Dr. Bob Freeland addresses the crowd. Photo: Maureen F.

About 150 people turned out in the nice sunny January weather to show their support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare"),  Medicare and Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood. This rally was one of hundreds around the country. A great group of healthcare professionals and providers spoke about how the changes proposed by House speaker Paul Ryan and the GOP would make healthcare worse for millions in America. A petition to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) opposing the repeal of Obama-care, cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and the defunding Planned Parenthood was signed by nearly everyone.(If you weren't able to attend today's rally, please contact the speaker on your own and  sign this CREDO petition.)

JD Wine, 2017 co-chair of the La Crosse County Democratic Party, introduced the speakers  including

Jill Billings, Wisconsin State Assembly Representative (D-95th District) who talked about how Scott Walker's refusal to accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars cost Wisconsin taxpayers millions of dollars and made it harder for those who needed it to secure affordable health insurance;

Robin Yaffe Tschumper, who has taught at the University level, was a consultant for nursing homes and ran a non-profit program for domestic abuse. She talked about her difficulties obtaining insurance in a high risk pool after having a stroke. She also spoke of the difficulties her coworkers and clients had in obtaining healthcare before the Affordable Care Act.

Beth Hartung, former director of Options Health Clinic (now Essential Health) and former president of the Wisconsin Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association talked about how Planned Parenthood and other reproductive care clinics have been literal life-savers for low income men and women around the state. Hartung noted that if Republicans are successful in defunding Planned Parenthood, 50% of Wisconsin counties will lose their only family planning providers.

Dr. Robert Freedland, who is a La Crosse physician. He talked about how Republican plans (such as they are) for health care are unaffordable and unsupportable.

Maureen Freedland, who read a moving testimonial from local author, Susan Hessel.* Susan is battling serious cancer. In the wheel of insurance misfortune, Susan ended up with an inadequate HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan) when her cancer roared back. This insurance, the model for what Republicans plan for us all, has paid hardly anything of tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs. She is so grateful to have been able to get a plan this year through the health care exchange and she hopes that Medicare is still available when she is eligible for it later this year.

Robin Transo helped organize and is the Executive Director of a free clinic for low income people in Grant and Crawford County. She talked about how the Affordable Care Act made it possible for so many of here clinic’s clients to have insurance for the first time in their lives.

Dr. Ralph Knudson, a retired family doc who has practiced in Iowa and Wisconsin and volunteers at the St. Clare Health clinic. He told about how lack of health insurance strains families, how Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA moved people from despair to hope. Knudson urged everyone attending to contact their elected officials and not letting up. He also recommended the Indivisible Handbook, an online guide put together by former Congressional staffers to help citizens sway lawmakers.

[* How bad is America's healthcare system? In trying to find Susan Hessel's GoFundMe page (because TENS of thousands in medical costs not paid by the high deductible (read "worthless") health plan), I came upon a vast directory of GoFundMe cancer pages for Sues and Susans all around the country. Try it. It will make you sick.]

The rally was well covered in the local media. The La Crosse Tribune's Mike Tighe had a great, thorough report. In fact, the Tribune's Saturday edition included a very good fact check pushing back against lies Republicans have been telling about the Affordable Care Act and other social health care programs.

Channel 8 (WKBT) news had a good report on the rally as did WXOW-TV19. Rallies around the country included hundreds of thousands, including many Trump voters who wanted a BETTER health plan not NO healthcare at all.

Next step? Call Speaker Ryan every day (202 225-0600). Call healthcare foe, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson every day (202 224-5323 (DC) or 414 276-7284 (Milwaukee)). Demand that they keep Trump's promise not to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Demand that they not end the ACA unless and until they have in place a system that will provide better coverage for more citizens. No vouchers. No high deductible plans. Demand that they not defund Planned Parenthood which is the only care provider available to so many citizens.

Mark adds: Here is something concrete folks can do today - contact each and every one of the 13 quisling "Democratic" senators who abandoned us to align with the Republicans and Big Pharma to defeat Bernie Sander's bill and make sure you, your family, neighbors and the rest of working America will pay artificially high prices for medications.

Spread the word about this rally. Encourage others to get involved - writing letters to the editor, calling elected officials, joining local or national groups. (Beware FAKE - astroturf - groups that do just the opposite of what you might think they do!)

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