Burlington County Times

Advocates For Affordable Care Act Rally Outside US Rep. Tom MacArthur's Office In Evesham

Burlington County Times — January 19, 2017

By Todd McHale, staff writer

EVESHAM — People of all ages, from teenagers to seniors, came together outside the office of Congressman Tom MacArthur on Wednesday to voice their opposition to a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The gathering was part of a series of rallies held at Republican legislative offices in New Jersey to ensure elected leaders know exactly where many of their constituents stand on the possible elimination of the controversial health care program that serves 20 million Americans and hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents.

Holding up signs stating "Don't take my health care," the more than three dozen advocates delivered a letter to the congressman's office and then headed down to Main Street for a rally and vigil.

"We're holding vigils across the state to really ask all of our delegation to vote 'no' on repeal, because there are so many individuals, families, communities and New Jersey taxpayers that will suffer irreparable harm with the repeal without an adequate replacement," said Maura Collingsru, health care program director of the New Jersey Citizen Action.

The statewide grassroots organization and watchdog coalition organized the rallies and were joined by a number of other groups and area residents in support of the effort.

"I think everyone has the right to health care," said Holly Kline of Action Together Burlington County.

"My hope is to slow down the repeal of the (Affordable Care Act) until something can be put together to build on in and improve it or create a safety net for people who would not have health care," Kline continued.

Mount Laurel resident Kathy Aubert said the public needs to know what throwing out the law would mean to her family and countless others.

"I'm very concerned (that) this new health care thing will not be covering people with pre-existing conditions," said Aubert, who has a daughter with a serious heart condition. "She's a wreck. I'm a wreck. We're all a wreck."

Several others shared Aubert's concerns about the loss of protections put in place with the law or even health insurance coverage itself.

The Rev. Sara Lilja, director of Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of New Jersey, joined her 16-year-old daughter Ella Peterson to speak out about the potential cuts to health coverage for women and those with mental illness and drug addition.

"New Jersey has the second highest level of opioid addiction in the nation," Lilja said.

"The Affordable Care Act pays for treatment, pays for medications, pays for rehab, so without that they are left to fend for themselves," she continued. "It's horrifying. We've got a whole generation of kids caught in this terrible situation, and they've got to be given a second chance."

Advocates on hand for the rally in Evesham commended MacArthur for voting no on the repeal.

MacArthur, R-3rd of Toms River, was one of just nine Republicans in the House to vote against a budget resolution that could pave the way for repealing much the Affordable Care Act with simple majorities. No Democrats supported it. Without the resolution, Republicans in the Senate would need 60 votes to avoid a potential filibuster.

Reached by phone later, MacArthur said he's in favor of everyone speaking out.

"I completely support them to rally and have their voices heard," MacArthur said. "I think that's an essential part of our Democracy, so I'm glad they came out."

He added that he voted no on starting the repeal process because he thinks it's premature.

"I think where we may not see eye-to-eye is that sooner or later we do have to replace this," MacArthur said. "It's not sustainable, and I'm concerned about getting it right. But I think it's important for people to realize the current program Obamacare is not sustainable. It's imploding. Thirty-one states we have double-digit increases, insurance companies are leaving states in droves.

"We have to replace it, but I will stand with the people of South Jersey that this is going too fast," MacArthur said. "I agree we are and we shouldn't be doing anything until we have a crystal clear replacement that we are prepared to pass and let the American people a chance to look at it."

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