WEST CHESTER >> Protesters gathered again outside the Historic Chester County Courthouse Wednesday evening in support of the Affordable Care Act. Despite a drop in temperature, picketers still turned out with signs, many wearing the pink “pussy hats” made popular at the Women’s March which took place in January. The demonstrators urged U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, to support the ACA, also known as Obamacare.
This was yet another in a string of protests regarding Costello and his stance on health care. A moderate Republican, he has stated that he would be interested in maintaining parts of the ACA, such as coverage of those with pre-existing conditions and the ability for children to stay on their parent’s plan until the age of 26. Costello voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in committee, but has said that he would have voted against it in a final vote. After a town hall meeting in which constituents were able to voice their concerns to Costello, many continued to feel dissatisfied with the answers he provided.
Protest organizer Beth Sweet said the protests such as these are meant to remind Costello of the promises made to his constituents regarding health care. Sweet feels that these demonstrations are effective because “they relay to Costello that these political issues effect people’s lives.”
Paula Baxter, who donned a pink hat, said that she is self-employed and has pre-existing conditions. Baxter needs expensive blood monitoring in order to know how much medicine to take, and without it she could die. She said that the demonstration was definitely riding the momentum of the earlier women’s marches, which she attended, but she said, “it is important to work at the local level because that is where the most change will take place.”
Kay Whittle said that she has good health care, but is doing it for her friends who do not. She feels that it is unfair that some people who work hard throughout their lives remain unable to obtain adequate care. For Whittle it is not about redistributing wealth.
“It is not a perfect plan, but it can be fixed,” said Edie Berstler, whose husband died of cancer in May. “Eight weeks after being diagnosed, he was laid off, then I lost my job, but because of the ACA we were able to get affordable care,” she said. “It was a lifeline.”
“Nobody should go broke because they got sick, it’s basic,” said Phil Dague. “People who come from other countries are shocked to see how little we have.”
Brett Dolente has been attending meetings with the group, Indivisible Chester County, and said that the meetings have been a major influence on her attendance.
While this was largely a local demonstration, many had more national issues on their minds.
“Ikea has better cabinet members than Trump,” said Cindy Fogarty
Julie Caldwell said that her motivation for attending the rally stems from her belief that health care for profit is immoral.
Sweet said she will continue actively protesting for as long as the ACA is at risk. She says that her ultimate goal is the implementation of a single-payer health care system, but that could take years.