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Rally calls on Congress to protect healthcare system

Michael Mroziak?WBFO News

Nurses, union leaders, elected officials and community advocates gathered at Erie County Medical Center's Long-Term Care facility to blast the Trump Administration and Senate Republican leadership. They say the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, with no replacement, will leave many of their patients unable to afford insurance and access to care.

"Jesus came to heal and not to repeal. They didn't get the memo," said Rev. Kirk Laubenstein, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Justice.

Advocates cited a nonpartisan report showing the Senate plan would leave millions without health insurance while causing out-of-pocket costs to soar.

"If these services get cut, these people aren't going to be able to afford to just go get healthcare insurance through their employer or go get some magical way to get health insurance," said Rachel Larkin, a registered nurse and member of the New York State Nurses' Association.

"If the Affordable Care Act is repealed and if they don't replace it with anything or allow it to just 'implode' on itself, as they say, it's really going to affect our patients."

Other groups represented included the Healthcare Education Project, United Healthcare Workers East and local public employee unions. Personal stories were shared. India Walton, now a nurse, told of how her twins were born prematurely and faced numerous health issues.

"It's really a tragedy. I believe that all Americans deserve health care. That's it. It's a right. I don't believe it's a privilege," Walton said.

"It shouldn't be reserved for the wealthy and well-to-do. And it certainly shouldn't be a means of corporate welfare to line the pockets of billionaires."