Thousands of people endured freezing temperatures on Sunday in Michigan where Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders called on Americans to resist Republicans efforts to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, ObamaCare.
The Michigan rally was one of a number of rallies Democrats staged across the country to highlight opposition to Republicans efforts to repeal the Obama’s legacy healthcare insurance
Labour unions were a strong presence at the rally in the Detroit suburb of Warren, where some people carried signs including “Save our Health Care”.
President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and majority Republicans in Congress last week began the process of repealing it using a budget manoeuvre that requires a bare majority in the Senate.
“This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world. It is time we got our national priorities right,” Sanders told the Michigan rally.
“The law has delivered health coverage to about 20 million people but is saddled with problems such as rapidly rising premiums and large co-payments,” Sanders told the Michigan rally.
Sanders, a strong supporter of the law, made several visits to the state in 2016 during the Michigan primary for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and defeated Hillary Clinton in the state.
But in a major surprise, Michigan narrowly voted for Trump on Nov. 8, 2016 presidential election, the first Republican presidential candidate to win the state since 1988.
Rallies in some other cities in support of the health law were also well attended.
Police said hundreds of people showed up in Portland, Maine and hundreds also attended a rally in Newark, New Jersey.
Republicans want to end the fines that enforce the requirement that many individuals buy coverage and that larger companies provide it to workers.
However, they face internal disagreements on how to pay for any replacement and how to protect consumers and insurers during a long phase-in of an alternative.
Mark Heller, 45, a civil rights, immigration and labour attorney who drove to the Michigan event from Ohio, said that stopping Republicans from repealing the law may take more than attending rallies.
“I think that it’s going to take civil disobedience to turn this around because they have the votes in both the Senate and the House, and the president,” he said.
Lisa Bible, 45, said she has an auto immune disease and high cholesterol and the existing law has been an answer to her and her husband’s prayers, expressing worries that if it is repealed, her family may get stuck with her medical bills.
“I’m going to get really sick and my life will be at risk,” she said.