As lawyers for and against the Affordable Care Act delivered their opening arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court today, more than 100 people outside of the historic building in Washington, D.C., made their case.
A throng of demonstrators, organized by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees but representing different organizations, such as the National Organization for Women, brought a '60s vibe, shouting, “What do we want? ObamaCare. When do we want it? Now!” as they marched in a circle and arranging chants to the tune of “This Little Light of Mine.” A brass band made up of students from Howard University was part of the group. A few of the demonstrators also carried signs with pictures of individuals and families who’ve already benefited from the law.
Elise Bryant, a resident of Silver Spring, MD, and one of the few protesters willing to speak to reporters on the record, has insurance coverage, but she wanted to demonstrate her support for the law and empathy for those who have had to do without health care insurance.
“’I’m fortunate, but I know that’s not true for many people in my family, and I know people who’ve lost everything they have because they had a catastrophic disease, their health care ran out and they still had to pay for it,” she said.
Bryant, a former college professor, also said that under the bill, African-American children will have a much healthier start in life because it provides prenatal care and preventive screenings. It also prohibits insurers from denying coverage to children who have pre-existing conditions.
Jermaine and Aleecha Jackson didn’t participate in the rally but observed the actions of so many. They, too, are covered, but know what it’s like to be uninsured.
“There was a time when I wasn’t working and didn’t have benefits,” said Jermaine Jackson, who works as a corrections officer in Prince William County, VA. “When you get benefits like Medicare or Medicaid, it’s stressful. There’s a long wait to see the doctor, certain doctors don't take [the programs] and it was a struggle. Everyone should get the same quality of care, whether it's through the government or the state, but we don’t, and that’s the sad thing about it.”
Amy Brighton, a Tea Party patriot from Ohio, traveled to Washington to voice her opposition to the law, which she said puts the nation on a slippery slope because it allows government to regulate what she believes should be a personal decision.
“I believe that the law is unconstitutional and the government doesn’t have the right to mandate people to purchase anything,” she said. “If we allow the government dictate that we need to buy health care insurance, where does it stop? It’s opening a door that cannot be closed.”
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(Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)