WASHINGTON – More than eight hundred grassroots community leaders gathered at the People’s Action “Hometown Rising Town Hall” on Tuesday to launch the next stage in the fight to stop Republicans from repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), gutting Medicaid and the Indian Health Service, and trading away health care for tax giveaways to corporations and the ultra-rich.
The activists, joined by Democratic National Committee Deputy Chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), announced plans to elevate health care as an issue in the 2018 elections and lay groundwork for Medicare for all.
“We lit a wildfire of resistance in hometowns across the country,” said LeeAnn Hall, co-director of People’s Action and member of the executive committee of Health Care for America Now. “We spoke up in the districts where no one expected people to fight for health care for all.”
Rep. Ellison was introduced by Mihiret Abrahim, a health care navigator and board member of Take Action Minnesota. Rep. Ellison urged activists to remain persistent, keep up the pressure, and get more people involved in the effort.
“People back home stopped health care repeal last month by refusing to be ignored by members of Congress,” said Rep. Ellison. “That’s how we’re going to move from defending health care to achieving health care for all.”
Participants pledged to hold 5,000 kitchen-table conversations on health care and 50 hometown events during the May recess.
Town hall panelists included hometown activists and other community leaders who described home-district activities and their plans to keep health care on the agenda
- Jess Hand of Flemington, New Jersey, who has a congenital heart defect, protested for the first time this year with New Jersey Citizen Action and helped win a pledge from Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) to vote no on the bill.
- Ed Weberman, of White Lake, Michigan, whose son was covered for lymphoma treatment thanks to the ACA, discussed joining the Michigan People’s Campaign and bird-dogging his member of Congress, Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI), all the way to Washington, D.C.
- ReShonda Young, a small business owner from Waterloo, Iowa, who campaigned for the ACA in 2009, talked about the difference it has made for her employees at Popcorn Heaven, and her community.
- Wizipan Garriott, CEO of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation, spoke about the lives lost due to severe underfunding of the Indian Health Service and urged members of Congress to consider the deaths their budget decisions will cost.
- Eunice Haigler, a grassroots leader with Virginia Organizing, spoke about phone-banking Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), who also backed off supporting repeal, and pledged to hold five kitchen-table conversations on health care back home in Fredericksburg.
- Barb Kalbach, a fourth generation Iowa family farmer and a retired cardiac rehab nurse now serving on her county’s hospital board.
Watch the “Hometown Rising” town hall here.