A little more than two dozen protesters gathered across from the Alaska State Capitol Thursday to call attention to the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act and to urge state legislators to have a replacement plan in place.
University of Alaska student group “What’s The Plan!?!” and other organizations rallied as part of the Protect Our Care Alaska coalition to send a message to elected leaders in Juneau and Washington, D.C. that “Alaskans want a clear plan for our health care system, not political games.”
“What’s the Plan?!?!” is actually the name of a campaign launched by University of Alaska Anchorage students. Political science major Mark Simon told Alaska Public Media he’s alarmed that Congress is already taking steps toward repeal.
Organizers had a petition available for signing, which they said had already gathered 120 signatures, urging elected officials to release the details of the health care law that will replace the Affordable Care Act before they vote to repeal it.
A failure to effectively replace ACA in a timely manner could be “disastrous” for the millions of Americans who received health insurance through the law, the petition read.
According to the petition, repealing ACA would strip more than 62,000 Alaskans of their health coverage, a 54 percent increase in the number of uninsured state residents.
“A repeal without a replacement will disproportionately affect working families and students,” the petition continued. “With Alaska currently grappling with low oil prices and a recession, now is not the time to add uncertainty to the lives of young and working-class Alaskans.”
During the rally, a number of speakers urged the crowd to speak out, including state Reps. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage, Harriet Drummond, D-Anchorage, and Justin Parish, D-Juneau.
“I’ve been feeling a little bit worried lately about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” Spohnholz said. “Without an alternative, that concerns me a lot.”
Nineteen-year-old UAS student Alicia Norton also spoke, telling the crowd that she feels lucky that she remains covered under her parents’ insurance, but remains concerned about what will happen to her when she ages out of that coverage.
“We all have a voice,” Norton said. “We all need to be heard.”