Standing room only at Howard Co. Town Hall on Affordable Care Act

COLUMBIA, Md. - Hundreds gathered in Howard County Sunday night to show their support for the Affordable Care Act.

On the campaign trail, President Trump vowed to repeal and replace the Obama health care act, but timing and few details about what will take its place has created uncertainty.

Congressman John Sarbanes indicated that a mark-up of the Affordable Care Act could come sometime this week. 

“Will money be taken away from other important things? Will there be waiting lists? Will it be harder for people to qualify for Medicaid? Will there be cuts in services,” said Judi Hammett, who attended the town hall.

Questions and concerns were directed to Congressmen John Sarbanes, Dutch Ruppersberger, and Elijah Cummings, who all attended the town hall. One message by the Congressmen was to encourage people to protest more effectively.

“It's not enough to come to rallies, it's not enough to just complain. They've got to get on the phone, talk to the people who vote against me, in other words the republicans who basically don't vote in favor of something like the ACA,” said Representative Cummings.

The Congressmen also offered strategies to better have their voices heard in Congress. Voices from parents like Cheryl Melomet.

“My daughter is a medical student, she has a preexisting condition, she has Crohn's Disease. She's on IV infusions every six weeks costing between $4,000-$6,000. Without the ACA she'd be dead,” she said.

The legislators at Sunday night's meeting agreed some things with the ACA needed to be fixed but said there needs to be more cooperation when making any changes.

“We have voted over 60 times to repeal health care, not one time have we come together to try and work it out and that's what has to be done. Sure there needs to be improvements but not do away with it,” said Rep. Ruppersberger.

The town hall was organized by Indivisible-Howard County, whose mission is to fight President Trump's agenda.

“To make the calls, to do what we have to do, to write the letters, to fight whatever fight we have to fight because this is our future,” said Pat Hersey with Indivisible-Howard County.

The group is strongly against any attempts to repeal or dilute the Affordable Care Act. Sunday night’s meeting was about mobilizing and strategizing the best way to get their message across.

Congressman Cummings also made an impassioned plea to the filled room to continue until they see results.

“We've got to be like soldiers in the Army. We have to fight! … We have to hold up the bloodstain banner, we have to hold it up until we die. This is bigger than us,” he said.

Last Tuesday, President Trump laid out his five principles for replacing Obamacare, which included continued access to coverage for people with preexisting conditions as well as offering new tax credits to help pay for coverage, and changing how Medicaid is funded.

Congressman Cummings also told ABC2 that he has a meeting scheduled with President Trump on Wednesday where he plans to bring up constituents’ concerns.

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