Concord, N.H. – Yesterday, overflow crowds came together for rallies in Manchester and Keene to protest efforts in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act and New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan without a replacement.
Also this weekend, the Union Leader highlighted the story of Gail O’Brien, a teacher from Keene , whose life was saved by the Affordable Care Act. The article also featured staff from Riverbend Community Mental Health in Concord who emphasized that repealing the Affordable Care Act would harm efforts to provide mental health care, and that repealing “the ACA will not cost cut; it will cost shift.”
See below for highlights of coverage:
Democrats across the country organized a day of action on Sunday, holding rallies in support of the Affordable Care Act.
The New Hampshire rallies took place in Keene and Manchester, where overflow crowds gathered to show support for the ACA and expanding health care coverage.
… Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both D-NH, are holding a roundtable discussion Tuesday on the ACA’s impact on New Hampshire.
The Affordable Care Act now targeted for repeal by President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress made Gail O’Brien of Keene an overnight internet sensation.
The federal health care law delivered the gift of insurance to this private school teacher suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma who would have died without it.
The internet stardom came with a YouTube video of President Barack Obama calling her after she become one of the first in the nation to be rescued by this law that brought an end to insurers refusing to cover someone who was sick due to a pre-existing condition.
“When that was signed, that just changed my life because it meant I would go and get the treatments that I need and I would be OK,” O’Brien told Obama.
“If it’s not for you, I wouldn’t be here.”
… Today, O’Brien says she’s “back to square one” with Trump vowing to strike the law from the books and replace it with a GOP, market-driven alternative.
“It’s scary right now for me as well as for millions of other people,” O’Brien said Saturday during a phone interview. “It will be back into the same boat for all of us.”
… At Riverbend Community Mental Health in Concord, professionals worry any alternative to the health care law could undo progress such as the 50,000 that got coverage in New Hampshire under Medicaid expansion and 7,000 that got substance abuse services with their insurance for the first time.
“It would be easy to underestimate how vitally important it is for parents to get access for their children to quality mental health care,” said Chief Operating Officer Bret Longgood.
“The repeal of the ACA will not cost cut; it will cost shift. It just ain’t going away.”
Off the streets
Sara Brown of Riverbend said the law allowed many without means to come out of the shadows.
“We had a 29-year-old female addicted to methamphetamine for two and a half years, finally hit bottom hard enough that she sought help,” Brown said, adding it led to the woman to getting a 28-day residential treatment in Effingham along with follow-up.
“It didn’t cost her a dime and if she didn’t have that insurance, she would still be on the streets in my opinion.”
… Through her illness, Gail O’Brien kept working, only calling in sick on the days she got chemotherapy treatments. Now a Title 1 teacher, O’Brien has never been told she’s in remission.
She’s already preparing for the brave new world of health care that stares her in the face. “It’s been seven years now and I have been fine and at my last appointment at the end of December I said instead of six months I could go for a year before my next screening,” O’Brien said.
But O’Brien hasn’t given up fighting either and she’ll be at one of the two, pro-Obamacare rallies Sunday holding her handmade sign.
“It will read, ‘Take away the GOP’s health care and see how they feel.'” O’Brien said.
(This post was compiled by the NHDP)