As Triangle commuters Tuesday night heard radio news updates about a failed Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, protesters high above Interstate 40 made clear their continued opposition to the effort.
Near Southpoint mall, where the American Tobacco Trail passes over I-40, about forty protesters brandished signs reading "Sink Trumpcare" and "Health Care 4 All."
About forty people protested GOP plans to repeal Obamacare Tuesday night on an overpass that crosses Interstate 40 near Southpoint mall.
The demonstration is one of eleven scheduled this week by groups around the state to protest the healthcare plan considered by the Senate, which a recent Public Policy Polling survey found just 20 percent of voters support
The GOP's pledge to replace Obamacare unraveled this morning after four Republican senators came out in opposition. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made an unsuccessful pitch to repeal parts of the law and deal with replacing it later
. President Trump blamed Democrats for not crossing the aisle and encouraged his Republican colleagues to "let Obamacare fail
," forcing Democrats to negotiate a new system.
"What we're seeing is the administration trying to make this 'death spiral' a self-fulfilling prophecy," said Alex Rosen, with Protecting Progress in Durham, which organized Tuesday's event.
Protesters Sarah Kruyer, Gustav Cappaert and Carissa Marston admit that Obamacare isn't perfect. But as students in Duke's physician assistant program, they've seen firsthand the critical need for access to quality healthcare.
"I just saw this cycle continue of people not having access to health care and need care," said Kruyer, who worked as a certified nurse assistant in a nursing home. She says women at the facility in particular lacked coverage because they made too much to qualify for Medicaid.
Martson worked in a medical respite shelter in Oregon when the Affordable Care Act was being implemented. Unlike North Carolina, that state chose to expand Medicaid coverage under the ACA.
"I got to see how access to care sky-rocketed," she said.
Cappaert became interested in health care while working as a congressional intern in Arizona. He says he and several family members are among the estimated 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and who would see premiums go up without the regulations afforded by Obamacare.
"This stuff touches every freaking person," he said.
Kruyer says she's encouraged "for now" that repeal efforts have faltered.
"But I feel like I'm holding my breath for what's to come next," she said.
Throughout the demonstration, cars below slowed and honked. Rosen said he hoped drivers who may be concerned about health care would see the group and be inspired to act.
"I think being out here helps others see there are people who care deeply about this issue," he said.
Kruyer, Marston and Cappaert took the honking as a show of support, despite one motorist who chanted "Trump! Trump! Trump!" while passing by.
"No one's given us the finger," Cappaert said.