By Kathleen Gray
As Republicans in Congress begin taking steps to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, leading Democrats are hitting the road — even to the potentially hostile territory of Macomb County — to rally residents to help save Obamacare.
U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Democrat who won Michigan’s presidential primary election, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters of Michigan are among those planning to attend the Save Health Care rally Jan. 15 in Warren.
Also planning to attend are the state’s five Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Michigan Democratic Party chairman Brandon Dillon.
Macomb is a logical place for the Democrats to start. The county — home to the so-called Reagan Democrats — helped deliver Michigan to Republican President-elect Donald Trump, voting for the controversial New York businsessman by a wide margin after supporting President Barack Obama in the previous two elections. Voters also sent three Republicans to countywide seats for Public Works commissioner, clerk and treasurer. It was the first time since 1988 that Michigan gave the Republican presidential candidate a victory when Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 10,704 votes out of nearly 5 million cast.
“Macomb County is an important county and it’s the kind of place where we want to make sure that people understand that health care under this new administration and Congress is at risk,” said Dillon. “A lot of people in Macomb County rely on these programs and no matter who somebody voted for, these are things that Republicans are talking about cutting and will have a disastrous effect.”
The rally, which will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the UAW Region 1 Pavillion, 27800 George Merrelli Drive in Warren, is part of a national day of action planned by Democrats who are trying to salvage Obama’s signature policy initiative, which has worked to insure 20 million formerly uninsured Americans, including more than 640,000 low-income Michiganders who have received health care coverage as a part of Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid coverage.
Trump promised throughout his presidential campaign that he would oversee the repeal and replacement of Obamacare and Republicans in Congress have tried dozens of times to repeal the law since it was enacted in 2009. But they never had the votes to override Obama’s veto. One of their first actions when they reconvened in Washington this week was to begin the process to repeal the health care policy.
“Macomb County is a critical area for Michigan Democrats. Just because Trump won in it November doesn’t mean that we’re not going to compete aggressively there,” Dillon said. “We want to send this message right before the inauguration — even before President-elect Trump becomes president — that there are millions across the nation and Michigan who want their voice heard on health care.”