Vowing to maintain and expand coverage for all, and kicking off a week of resistance before the inauguration.
Demanding to maintain and even expand health care for all, hundreds rallied in Westlake Park on Sunday as part of a national call to defend and improve Obamacare.
The event was one of many rallies around the country Sunday for health care organized by Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters and Our First Stand.
President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on repealing the Affordable Care Act, and members of Congress already have taken steps toward repeal.
The pushback Sunday also was against Trump’s inauguration and a shout-out against cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood defunding. Similar rallies took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and many major Eas Coast and Midwest cities.
Speakers in Seattle included U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, newly elected to the 7th District, Service Employees International Union 775 President David Rolf, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action President Robby Stern, Sea Mar Community Health Centers’ Dr. Julian Perez, and a Planned Parenthood volunteer.
They called for expanding and improving the Affordable Care Act, rather than repealing it. Demonstrators had plenty to say, too.
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Andrea Strong, 36, was passing out fliers announcing rallies at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to demonstrate against and resist Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C.
“I want to see a good health-care system in place,” Strong said. “This is a call to action to our entire nation, to shut it down,” she said of the inauguration. “It’s about the future of humanity, and the planet.”
Some used art to make their statement.
Donna Burdick, 56, of Everett, created a life-size stuffed Bernie Sanders puppet, with the number of the U.S. Capitol switchboard on the back, urging citizens to deluge their members in Congress with phone calls on behalf of maintaining and extending health-care coverage, not terminating it.
“We are all human and we all need health care,” she said. “We need to love and care for each other.”
Others used humor.
Ruth Knagenhjelm, a physical therapist,turned out in a hospital gown parted in the back exposing a large plastic rump, and a sign above it reading “Full coverage 4 All needed now.”
But she was 100 percent serious about her opposition to efforts under way in the other Washington to throw out Obamacare. “Unbelievable,” she said.
For some the issue was all too serious. Siobhan Whalen, of Seattle, a youth-programs manager for a Seattle nonprofit, wept as she spoke of a friend who has survived a two-year bout with leukemia only because of health care provided under Obamacare.
Expansion of health care to cover more children also has directly benefited many of the kids she works with, Whalen said. “Can you look these people in the eye, the people in our communities, in our families, and say no?”
For some, this was their first political rally in many years. Allen DeSteiguer said he hadn’t been in a political demonstration since an anti-war march in London against the Vietnam War. But he said his outrage at the direction Trump is taking the country induced him and his wife, Bonnie, to travel from Vashon Island for the rally.
“This whole situation is so ludicrous, so unbelievable,” DeSteiguer said, adding that the couple’s adult son wouldn’t have had health care while he was looking for work, were it not for Obamacare.
Jayapal brought a roar of approval from the crowd when she said she had decided to spend the inaugural not in Washington, D.C., but in her home district, as an act of solidarity with her constituents.
“The repeal of the affordable health-care act is an act of violence under the guise of politics,” she said. “We need to make it better, not repeal it.”