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Marlton Vigil Draws ACA Supporters

Courier-Post — January 19, 2017

Written by
Kim Mulford

EVESHAM — In her first protest since the Vietnam War, Bella Saltzer stood along the busy road outside U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur's legislative office during rush hour Wednesday night, and hoisted a sign with about 30 others rallying in support of the Affordable Care Act.

"Health care is a right," the crowd shouted, as cars passed by.

The candlelight vigil was one of seven held at legislative offices across the state. Organized by NJ For Health Care, a coalition of consumer advocates, the campaign called on Republican legislators to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The 63-year-old Audubon resident lost her employer-sponsored health insurance after she was laid off from her job as an account manager last spring. She has since applied for coverage, while stringing together four part-time jobs.

"Just by the grace of God or good luck, I've managed to stay healthy for the last seven months," Saltzer said. "The average American citizen is absolutely going to need assistance if you take away the Affordable Care Act. It has to be replaced with something as good or better."

MacArthur was the only Republican from New Jersey to vote against a budget resolution last week marking the first step toward the law's repeal. In a statement released by his office Wednesday, MacArthur said he voted no because he believes "it's more important to do this right than fast."

"Both parties have missed opportunities to fix our health care system — one of the greatest priorities of our time — and now we're faced with an Obamacare system that is literally falling apart," MacArthur said. "Skyrocketing premiums, disappearing insurance plans and out-of-control deductibles are failing the American people."

Maura Collinsgru, health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action, said 800,000 New Jerseyans who gained insurance coverage under the sweeping law are at risk of losing it. She called it a human rights issue, not a political one.

"There's a lot of people, quite frankly, who are frightened they're going to lose coverage," Collinsgru said.

"If you want to replace it, you've got to guarantee the same level of coverage and the protections that are inherent in the ACA," Collinsgru added. "Some of the ideas that have been floated don't pass the sniff test."

Karen Beard of Medford said she was jolted to action by the election results, and now worries about her 26-year-old son's insurance and disability benefits if New Jersey loses billions in federal Medicaid funding. Her son has autism, and is enrolled in support programs.

If the Medicaid expansion is repealed, she said, "there's a possibility they might not renew his program."

New Jersey could lose $60 billion in federal funding over a decade, if the law is repealed, according to the coalition.

Antoinette Miles of Pennsauken said she was covered under her parents' insurance until she turned 26 a couple months ago.

"My generation is not making nearly as much as the previous generation before us," Miles said. "What are you going to do if Obamacare is rolled back and we don't have protection for pre-existing conditions, and we don't have protections for young people or even women?

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