One writer reflects on the Boston health care rally
On Jan. 15, 2017, my mother, my step-dad and I bundled up against the formidable chill and made our way from the 77 bus route through the crowds on the redline train from Alewife station. We followed the flow of impassioned people carrying signs and chanting in unison, and they led us along the stretches of Boston’s historic streets. Despite the cold on this January day, enough people lined the streets to fill the entire cobblestoned square of Faneuil hall. They, like us, came to hear speeches from members of the Massachusetts delegation, including the likes of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey discuss the ramifications of the Republican party’s initial actions to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Going to this rally was incredibly empowering. From where I stood in the crowd, there were people of all ages, ethnicities and brands of winter jackets. They held signs and cheered each other on, and the energy when “headliner” Elizabeth Warren took the stage was electrifying. “Donald Trump and the Republican leadership are marshaling their forces to destroy health care in America. It’s up to us to fight back.” As Warren spoke of the fight ahead, her voice resounded off of the historic buildings lining the square — you couldn’t help but feel like you were a part of something so much larger than yourself, even if all you were doing was listening. Senator Ed Markey took the stage and after a few jokes about the Patriots, he proclaimed to the crowd, “We are not just any state… We are Massachusetts. Massachusetts will not sit on the sidelines as the future of democracy hangs in the balance. This is where the American Revolution began!”
Massachusetts health care first aligned with the ACA in 2010, and now many of the programs that have helped so many millions of people are coming under the scrutiny of a party looking to bolster the profits of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. According to CNN journalist Tami Luhby, “Under Obamacare, senior citizens pay less for Medicare coverage and for their prescription drugs. Many Americans have received free contraceptives, mammograms, colonoscopies and cholesterol tests. And small business employers with older and sicker workers have not been slapped with super-high premiums.” Take what you will from her description of the health care policy, but repealing this act truly does affect a massive amount of people.
On Jan. 12, three days before the rally I attended, the predominantly Republican senate voted 51 to 48 for a restructured budget that would help bolster the legislation for the repeal of key provisions offered by Obamacare. At the time of publication, Trump has been in office for 36 days, and in that time period he has followed through with his intent to repeal the ACA.
On Jan. 15, Washington Post’s Robert Costa and Amy Goldstein published one of the last articles that mentions Trump’s plan for health care after the repeal of the ACA. It quotes him promising, “‘insurance for everybody,’ while also vowing to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices in Medicare and Medicaid.” According to The New York Times editorial board, “Congress blew past a self-imposed Jan. 27 deadline to introduce legislation to end the health law. Mr. Trump told FOX News in an interview that ran Sunday that a replacement for the health law might not be ready until next year.” Much like a lot of things in Trump’s presidency, it seems that the guarantee of health care lies in the balance of whenever Trump actually figures out to handle his job as President.
Power should not be measured by how you help those like you, but how you help those with less than you. How Trump deals with his newfound power, specifically when it comes to a government service that affects so many people, is going to be incredibly telling about what kind of president we are going to be looking at for the next four years.
Mila Phelps-Friedl is a second-year journalism major who doesn’t let the cold stop her from standing up against Trump’s policies. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org