Hundreds gather at Utah State Capitol to rally against repeal of Affordable Care Act

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By Kevin Randall

SALT LAKE CITY -- Hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol Sunday to rally against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Concerned citizens and politicians spoke up and held signs at Sunday’s event, which was inspired by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ call to save the Affordable Care Act, which is also referred to as “Obamacare”, from being dismantled.

Stephanie Richardson is a cancer survivor with a preexisting condition. She held a sign crediting Obamacare with saving her life.

“Had I not had my Obamacare, which I proudly call Obamacare, I don’t think I would have gone to the doctor because now those preventive screenings are covered 100 percent,” Richardson said.

As many stood up to share their story, the rally had an overwhelming message. Rally organizer Stacy Stanford is hoping to spread that message.

“People are going to die,” Stanford said. “People are going to lose their health care, they’re going to lose access to medications, access to doctors and specialists and hospitals—and people are going to die. My goal is to minimize that harm as much as possible.”

Senator Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, says the ACA isn’t perfect, but she said it's irresponsible to repeal it without having something to replace it.

“The idea that we will repeal the ACA and have nothing to replace it is irresponsible from a fiscal and public policy perspective, and I’m embarrassed that elected officials have conversations at that level,” she said.

Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, said he and other Republicans are concerned with the increase in health care costs that has come with the ACA, but he said he agrees something needs to be done to get people basic health insurance.

“Obamacare did a good job of getting coverage to some more people,” he said. “More people have coverage now than they did before, but it didn’t do anything at all to help costs stay low.”

In the meantime, people at the rally remain afraid of the unknown but hopeful their coverage won’t go away.

“I think citizens have a right to know what we have waiting for us, what we have to expect, especially when it’s something that’s life or death,” Stanford said.

That’s an idea Richardson says she understands all too well.

“I really feel like I don’t know if I’d be here today, because my mother died of colon cancer,” she said. “I’ve had cancer in different areas, so this is what I believe to be true.”

After the House passed the resolution that gives Congress the legislative tools to repeal and replace Obamacare, Congresswoman Mia Love, R-District 4, released this statement.

“Today, I supported the first step toward repealing and replacing Obamacare, a budget resolution to facilitate the repeal. I am part of the discussion to repeal and replace Obamacare. There will not be a full repeal without a replacement. There will be a stable transition to a better, 21st century health care system, unlike the implementation of the ACA. Obamacare has failed, and it’s only getting worse. I will continue to work hard to compassionately fulfill one of my first campaign promises.”

Congressman Chris Stewart, R-District 2, also commented in support of the repeal.

“I have heard over and over again from my constituents about how Obamacare is failing them. It’s increased premiums, deductibles and forced Americans to change doctors and health care plans. That’s why the house acted today by passing legislation which begins the process of repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

“I want to reassure my constituents that we are quickly working on a replacement plan. We’ve already laid the foundation for multiple pieces of straightforward legislation, not a comprehensive, overly complex, and confusing 3,000-page bill like Obamacare. Our legislation will make it easier and cheaper to get portable insurance, increases access to and flexibility of health savings accounts (HSAS), reforms medical liability laws, spurs competition between insurers and protects individuals with pre-existing conditions.”