CHRISTIANSBURG – Members of the New River Valley chapter of Virginia Organizing held a peaceful demonstration in downtown Christiansburg to express their concerns over repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) without a replacement plan in place.
Lead organizer of the non-partisan group Andrae Hash said that the forty or so protesters were concerned with citizens being left uninsured if Congress repeals the ACA without a replacement plan.
“We need to protect the healthcare gains we have made over the last few years under the Affordable Care Act,” Hash said.
He said that the group was most concerned with individuals with pre-existing conditions still be able to purchase and afford insurance, young-adults being able to stay on the parent’s insurance until the age of 26, maintaining low monthly premiums and affordable prescriptions.
Hash said that the demonstrators wanted to let Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-9th District), who has an office in downtown Christiansburg, aware that many people are concerned over the possibility of being left uninsured.
“We don’t want to see partisan politics divide us,” he said.
The group ended their hour-long protest by walking a petition to Griffith’s office. Griffith was at his Abingdon office, so he was unable to receive the document in person, but he did address some of the group’s concerns in an interview with the News Messenger.
Griffith said that he understands the concerns that people may have about repealing the ACA, but that they don’t need to worry.
“We are not going to leave anyone out there without coverage,” he said. “You may not like everything we do, but we’re not going to repeal it one day and then for six months you don’t have insurance.”
Griffith said that he has not heard a single politician say that they want to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan in place. He is part of one of two committees that is primarily in charge of repealing the current system, and says that a replacement plan hasn’t been unveiled yet because they are still choosing between multiple options, not because they don’t have one.
Griffith also said that he is in favor of keeping some provisions of the ACA like making sure that those with preexisting conditions can get insurance and that parents may keep their children on their insurance plan until they are 26.
“I don’t think we can go back to the plan we had before Obamacare, because those people (pre-existing conditions) were left out in the cold and could not buy anything, and that is not appropriate,” he said.
Griffith said that he appreciated the Virginia Organizing group remaining respectful and encouraged anyone to contact him with their concerns.
He said that he expects the ACA to be replaced by the end of the year, but that insurance companies may not be ready to offer the measure in the new plan for one to one-and-a-half years.