That was the word from organizers of Tuesday's protest at the downtown Raleigh office of U.S. Senator Thom Tillis. About 150 people gathered in front of the federal building on New Bern Avenue for speeches, chants, and songs. The event also offered spins of a "Wheel of Misfortune" and a "die-in" staged to show potential impact on the estimated one million North Carolinians who could lose health insurance under the Senate version of a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
"This is the biggest crowd we've ever had so far," co-organizer Karen Ziegler told the crowd. "Who says the resistance is losing energy?"
Along with countless other actions across the country, it might even have worked. Republican leaders announced less than an hour after the rally's end that the Senate would put off consideration of the bill until the chamber returns following the July 4 recess, the Associated Press and other sources said.
President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch O’Connell, and other proponents have said their plan, which also includes hundreds of billions in tax cuts, would reduce premiums as well as lowering the deficit and middle class taxes.
Tillis, a former state legislator, hasn't taken a firm stance on the bill or commented at all since the Congressional Budget Office analysis that showed twenty-two million U.S. citizens would lose health care under it. His office issued a statement from him last week that read: "As I’ve said repeatedly, any replacement plan must be a net improvement over Obamacare, and I look forward to carefully reviewing the draft legislation over the next several days."
The event was organized by state progressive groups including Protecting Progress in Durham, IndivisibleNC, the N.C. Justice Center, the NC AIDS Action Network, Action NC, and ProgressNC Action. Speaker after speaker addressed specific issues that would arise of the Senate's version of health care reform passes.
Mary Rider brought her daughter, Mary Evelyn, twelve, to the podium to talk about the difference that Obamacare has meant for the daughter, who has Down syndrome and underwent open-heart surgery under the insurance.
"Mary Evelyn, as you can see, has a lot to say and is a busy girl," Rider said.
Medically fragile people who receive health treatment under Medicaid could face jeopardy if the health insurance program for low-income people and those with disabilities is turned into a block-grant program. Under that scenario, states would have to spread a set amount of funding among many populations, advocates say.
Chelsey Butler, sixteen, heard about the rally from her boss in her internship, Jeremy Sprinkle, communications director for the state AFL-CIO office. Butler told the crowd that she's a foster child with ADHD who relies on her Medicaid-funded therapy to keep her on track. She's succeeding to the degree of making the A-B honor roll at Southeast Raleigh High School.
"I deal with not being with my family every day," Butler said. "I need someone to advise me, and my therapy does that."
Shannon Mallery, a Durham mother of Evie, four, and Grant, two, said her family receives health care under the Affordable Care Act and worries about the consequences if it's dismantled.
"Do not take Obamacare away from us," Mallery said.