More than a thousand people rallied at Capitol Square on Sunday to show support for health care legislation championed by President Barack Obama.
President-elect Donald Trump campaigned to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which Sen. Tim Kaine said was used by about 650,000 Virginians.
The former vice-presidential candidate spoke at the rally, expressing skepticism about Republicans’ plans to replace the Affordable Care Act.
“Why don’t we jump off a cliff and figure out how to land on the way down,” Kaine said.
The U.S. Senate voted along party lines last week to begin the process of repeal. Kaine noted that Democrats needed three Republican Senators to preserve the 2010 legislation.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, congressmen Bobby Scott and Donald McEachin and a local arts administrator also spoke in favor of keeping the current system.
Director at Studio Two Three, Ashley Hawkins, held her three-month-old daughter, Zoey, and told the crowd that the hospital birth would’ve cost a third of her salary.
With the federal health care subsidies, she said, she was paying a little less than $300 a month for her and her son’s health insurance.
“Health care is the freedom to sleep at night knowing that no matter what happens, our children are protected,” she said. “This is why today is so important. We are 30 million Americans who deserve security, safety and above all, health.”
Repealing Obamacare would jeopardize her health care, Hawkins said, and lead insurers to deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, as they did before the legislation.
Republicans have said they would protect the pre-existing condition element of the Affordable Care Act, but some opponents of repeal-and-replace say there’s no guarantee.
As head of the Scott’s Addition space for artists, Hawkins said she knows artists, entrepreneurs and college adjuncts that rely on the Affordable Care Act. Without health care, she said, an accident or health care situation could leave someone bankrupt.
The Sunday rally also served as an early staging ground for Democratic primaries in Virginia’s 2017 election. Three Democrats who have declared themselves candidates for lieutenant governor spoke. So did gubernatorial hopefuls Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello.
The rally comes a day after a march of a similar size in support of women’s issues, the March on Monument. On Monday, Capitol Square will serve as the location for a pro-gun rally, as well as one in support of gun control.