By Ryan Grewal, city editor
More than a hundred professionals and students who work and study in Boston’s health care system, along with other supporters of publicly-funded health insurance, voiced their opposition to Republican lawmakers’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Saturday.
A coalition of health care workers unions and medically–focused nonprofit organizations planned the the State House rally. Some protesters wore white lab coats and held signs reading, “It’s not okay to cut ACA” and “Health care is a human right.”
Joia Mukherjee, the chief medical officer at Boston-based international health care nonprofit Partners In Health (PIH) and a professor at Harvard Medical School, criticized conservative invocations of freedom in the debate over health insurance.
“Freedom means having health care,” Mukherjee said. “Freedom is a constant struggle and we must work toward freedom together.”
At the end of the protest, Mukherjee led the protesters in a die-in to support protecting patients’ coverage.
“Get ready for a fight, health care is a human right,” the protesters chanted as they rose.
Several students from Northeastern’s student PIH chapter, called PIH Engage NEU, joined the protest.
“We believe health care is a human right and protecting the Affordable Care Act is no. 1 on the list domestically,” said Anthony Formicola, a junior neuroscience major and PIH member. “We don’t want to see millions of people lose care.”
Third-year pharmacy major Amanda Lin joined the protest to protect access to affordable health care.
“I work at [the Boston Medical Center] as a pharmacy student, and pharmacists are some of the most accessible health care professionals,” Lin said. “I think it’s important for us to protect our patients.”
Oscar Garcia, a third-year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine at the Boston Medical Center (BMC), joined the rally to support patients and advocate for single-payer health insurance.
“I felt like it was necessary to come and stand up for our patients, not just at BMC but around the country,” Garcia said. “We are at a crossroads, and we must make sure we come out on the right side, pushing for single–payer so everyone is insured.”
Brian Rosmun, the director of policy and government relations for statewide advocacy organization Healthcare For All, addressed the crowd to praise the efficacy of direct action tactics in combating Republican lawmakers.
“These rallies are working,” Rosmun said. “They are afraid of the letters and the calls and the petitions and everything we are doing.”
Photo by Ryan Grewal