Hundreds gathered at the East Side federal complex in Portland on Thursday, where U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici held a rally opposing the Affordable Care Act repeal effort. The event was sponsored by the grassroots organization Indivisible Oregon.
“We have to stop this bill because we are going to have thousands of Oregonians who won’t be able to afford long-term care,” said Wyden, referring to the U.S. Senate’s Better Health Care Reconciliation Act. “We have to stop this bill.”
Merkley called the bill “fake insurance,” a reference to President Trump’s “fake news” statements. Bonamici, the house representative from Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, stressed how affordable access to health coverage is vital to creating healthy communities.
Also speaking at the event was Honora Englander, M.D., associate professor of medicine at OHSU.
“Before the Affordable Care Act, my colleagues and I often saw patients who were hospitalized and suffered serious harms and may have even died from lack of insurance or healthcare access,” said Honora Englander, M.D., associate professor of medicine at OHSU.
She shared the stories of some of those patients, which include: a person with inflammatory bowel disease who ultimately had their colon removed when they couldn’t afford expensive medication, a person suffering from thyroid disease and sleep apnea who became so sick they lost their job and their home, and another who had untreated diabetes which led to an amputation.
One chronically ill patient, wanting to avoid becoming a burden, even attempted suicide.
“None of these patients needed to suffer the way that they did," she said. "With access to health care, they could have avoided these devastating outcomes. Since implementation of the Affordable Care Act, I don’t see many patients like these anymore. The health and wellbeing of Oregonians is better because of the ACA."
Englander concluded her remarks, calling on the crowd to “stop this latest attempt to undermine one of the best investments this country has ever made.”
Click here for more information on OHSU’s position regarding the proposed bill to repeal and replace the ACA.