EDEN PRAIRIE and OTSEGO, Minn. Dec. 20, 2016 — As Congressional leaders plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act in January, grassroots leaders from ISAIAH, TakeAction Minnesota, the Land Stewardship Project, Main Street Alliance of Minnesota, the Minnesota Nurses Association and AFSCME held actions at both the offices of U.S. Reps, Erik Paulsen (R) and Tom Emmer (R), voicing their concerns about the future of healthcare in the state.

Leaders gathered this morning at the office of Emmer and this afternoon at Paulsen’s, declaring that they would not tolerate the cutting and gutting of systems set up to protect and care for everyday working families. Leaders were primarily responding to the imminent threat facing the Affordable Care Act, which has helped millions of Americans gain access to health insurance for the first time, has extended healthcare to adult children until they are 26 years old and has offered protections and access to healthcare to millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. They made the firm stance that if any change is to be made, it should improve and strengthen the policies, not bankrupt the entire American healthcare system while padding the pockets of insurance companies and big business.

The group of faith communities, business owners, nurses, farmers and the like, gathered with signs saying “DON’T TAKE MY HEALTH CARE” and “DON’T TAKE MY MEDICAID AND MEDICARE” as well as personal signs sharing what losing healthcare would mean for their families. They also brought letters to their congressmen, giving their own stories as to how programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act, and MNsure have been lifesaving policies and that the demise of these programs will have devastating and life-threatening consequences for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans and millions of people across the country. These programs have been a lifeline to the elderly, disabled, people with pre-existing conditions and low-income families. The organization members invited their congressmen to schedule meetings with them to further discuss ways that they can better represent their constituents.

Terry Johnson, ISAIAH leader and Brooklyn Park resident, has both a son and granddaughter that have distinct, chronic health issues that require both expensive and consistent care. “It is only because of the Affordable Care Act that my baby granddaughter is alive. She would not still be here if it weren’t for her treatments and they’d never be affordable without ACA. Likewise, it is only because of Medicaid that my son has his lifesaving coverage. He works every day and still couldn’t afford [healthcare],” says Johnson. “It is because of these policies that they are both still here so am gravely concerned and disappointed that there are plans to repeal a policy that has saved so many lives.”

“What I deeply care about is that people can go and get their healthcare needs met of at a price that they can afford. Nothing is perfect. But people are very, very afraid that they will lose access to help and livelihood,” said Pastor Paul Slack of New Creation Church and ISAIAH board president. “This plan to revoke a lifeline to millions of people is unethical and immoral.”

Beyond these programs being the line of defense in the fight between life and death, they have proven to be instrumental in job creation and catapulting the nation closer to the “American Dream.” Ensuring that every American has an opportunity to live healthy lives allows them the ability to pursue vocations and goals that will permit families to thrive.

“While starting our business my wife and I welcomed a new baby into our home. If not for access to affordable coverage, one of us would have had to step away from the business to find outside employment with health benefits,” said Todd Mikkelson, the owner of Sprayrack.com in Orono and Main Street Alliance of Minnesota Advisory Board member. “Without both of us focused on the business we would never have gotten off the ground.”

It has been no secret that the Affordable Care Act is on the potential chopping block in the upcoming year. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 380,000 people could lose health insurance and Minnesota could lose $16.4 billion in federal funding with the repeal of the ACA.  There are 912,000 people on Medicare and over 1 million people on Medicaid in Minnesota. It would also jeopardize the health care of more than 744,000 Minnesotans with pre-existing conditions. These statistics equals 2.4 million people in a state of 5.5 million who will be negatively impacted by changes to healthcare at the federal level. That’s 35-40% of all Minnesotans.  This data on Medicare and Medicaid is from CMMS (Medicaid) and the Kaiser Foundation (Medicare).

Grassroots organizations across the country are participating in a national “Hands off Our Healthcare” Day of Action, as thousands of leaders across the country call on Representatives and Senators to end the threats to the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare.

Congress needs to move in a very different direction than what’s been proposed. Elected officials need to:

  • Pass measures to improve and strengthen the Affordable Care Act.
  • Give everyone the choice of an employer provided healthcare plan or a public option under Medicare
  • Maintain and strengthen Medicare
  • Protect Minnesota’s state budget and local hospitals with full funding for Medicaid.

It is time for Congress to stand for and with the people by the creating a healthcare system that works for everyone, with quality healthcare all can afford.

ISAIAH leader and Pax Christi Catholic Community member, Joan Howe-Pullis said, “I think we have an opportunity to think beyond political parties and instead, stand together as human beings for love and decency and humanity.”