Despite freezing temperatures, thousands attended U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I–Vt.) rally Sunday held outside Macomb Community College to hear him speak alongside both Michigan senators, several Michigan representatives and Senate minority leader, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.).
Sanders called upon Americans to fight the repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care plan in one of multiple Democratic rallies across the country held to encourage opposition.
President-elect Donald Trump vowed to repeal and replace Obama’s health care law throughout his campaign. This week, Congress took its first steps in dissolving “Obamacare” by approving a budget resolution that would cut down large parts of the health care law.
Sanders, like many other congressional Democrats, said he intends to fight for the law to remain intact.
“If you think you’re simply going to throw millions off of health insurance, you’ve got another guess coming,” Sanders said.
Sanders has been one of the strongest proponents of the health care law, which — although it has provided health care to about 20 million people — has been criticized for its high premiums. The senator’s rhetoric was aimed toward those who may be most affected by the repeal — working-class individuals and members of labor unions, including the United Automobile Workers, who were a strong presence in the crowd.
“Very few Americans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement to make it better,” Sanders said.
Kathy Squires, a Chelsea resident, came to show support for the law, which she says saved her daughter’s life.
“My daughter is in remission after having cancer and she needs continuing care,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to her insurance under President Trump, so I need to be here with other people who are hoping for change.”
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.) said during the rally she resonated with the personal nature of the health care law. She said if we look at all the pieces of health care reform, 2 million people in Michigan will lose their health care.
“This isn’t a political issue,” she said. “I can’t think of a more personal one.”
Shirley Chalmers, a resident of Beverly Hills, carried a sign at the rally that read, “taking away ACA is a death sentence,” and said her support for Sanders rested largely on his ability to mobilize.
“He’s sparking a fire for something that has been dormant since the election season ended,” she said. “Thank you, Bernie, for showing the way.”
Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D–Mich.) said mobilization of millennials is necessary to resist Republican efforts to repeal the bill.
“Millennials, you are under attack,” Lawrence said. “Millennials, are you ready to stand up and fight?”
Sanders agreed that the fight to prevent Republicans from repealing “Obamacare” will be arduous, but he urged his supporters to remain involved.
“This is the beginning of the fight, not the end of the fight,” Sanders said.
Additionally, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards applauded “Obamacare” for its part in women’s health care in particular. Under President Obama’s health care law, women’s preventive care, such as mammograms and cervical screenings, must be covered without cost sharing. Richards said with more female representation in Congress, more women’s health issues can be resolved.
“If there were more people in Congress who could get pregnant, we could stop arguing about birth control,” she said.