Approximately 1,000 Hoosiers showed up in Indianapolis Sunday to protest congressional efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The rally was organized by a coalition of local and state-wide organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the Indiana Democratic Party and the state chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Rallies across the U.S. were spurred in part by Senator Bernie Sanders (who was not in attendance at the Indianapolis event).
The overarching theme at Sunday’s “Rally to Save Healthcare” was “health is a human right.” Variations of the slogan were iterated behind the microphone, on sheets of poster board, and even on the jackets of a trio of fluffy dachshunds.
Speakers included U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, Indianapolis City Council Vice President Zach Adamson and other local activists, who called on attendees to implore their reps in Washington to “Keep their hands off the A.C.A.”
At one point, the line to get through the statehouse’s metal detectors stretched down the block and around the corner. Richmond resident Janet Sims stood in line for nearly an hour to get into the event.
Sims and her husband, both HIP 2.0 enrollees, are worried an A.C.A repeal would mean they wouldn’t be able to see a doctor anymore. She says she finds the idea of HIP 2.0 being offered as an example for an Obamacare alternative ludicrous, since HIP was made possible by the A.C.A.
“It can’t just happen at the state level. They think it’s the model for doing it state-by-state but I don’t think it is,” says Sims.
Says her husband, Dan: “They’ve been promoting HIP as one of the great successes of the alternative republican approach..."
“But it’s federal dollars,” says his wife, completing his sentence. “It needs federal dollars to succeed.”
(Through last year, HIP 2.0 was funded 100 percent with federal funds. That number is scheduled to gradually fall to a 90 percent share by 2020.)
Vernon Beck, president of United Steelworkers Local 12775, says many union workers depend on the A.C.A. for coverage now that many of their retirement benefits are being stripped away.
He says he’s thinks the Republican Party isn’t living up to the Christian values it claims to represent.
“Defunding Planned Parenthood, defunding all the different program that do exactly what they claim that they are, I find this whole group is hypocritical in what they claim to be and what they do,” says Beck.
NIPSCO employee Beck says his parent company, NiSource, has gutted healthcare for workers, who now rely on Obamacare.
“In that group there are 17 different unions, and they stripped away 15 of those unions’ retirement medical,” he says. “If you retire, you don’t get it. Or you’ll work ‘til you die.”
Last week the house and senate both approved a bill that would start the process of an A.C.A. repeal. Republicans have floated several Obamacare alternatives but have yet to rally around a single replacement plan.