2017-03-02 / News

Protestors to appear every week on Main Street

By Garrick Hoffman
Staff Writer


Pat Boston, a registered nurse and president of the American Nurses Association in Maine, with friend Julie Gamelson at a protest in front of Sen. Susan Collins’ office on Main Street in Biddeford last week. (Garrick Hoffman photo) Pat Boston, a registered nurse and president of the American Nurses Association in Maine, with friend Julie Gamelson at a protest in front of Sen. Susan Collins’ office on Main Street in Biddeford last week. (Garrick Hoffman photo) BIDDEFORD –More than 50 protesters gathered last week in downtown Biddeford to urge Republican Sen. Susan Collins to preserve the Affordable Care Act.

The protesters, carrying signs with messages such as “Don’t Tread on my Obamacare,” were peaceful as they stood on the sidewalk in front of Collins’ Biddeford office on Main Street. Some entered the office to speak with Collins’ staff about their concerns, and the occasional motorist drove by and honked in support.

Marc Malon of Organizing for Action, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan issue advocacy organization, organized the event.

Organizing for Action has 250 local chapters throughout the U.S., with a mission to “fight for real, lasting change,” and to train “the next generation of great progressive organizers” for social justice, basic fairness, equal rights and expanding opportunity, according to its website.


A protester at the Feb. 23 protest urges Sen. Susan Collins to preserve and improve the Affordable Care Act, rather than repeal it. (Garrick Hoffman photo) A protester at the Feb. 23 protest urges Sen. Susan Collins to preserve and improve the Affordable Care Act, rather than repeal it. (Garrick Hoffman photo) “All these folks are grassroots supporters of Obamacare – it’s not a partisan event at all,” said Malon, a Biddeford resident, noting that both Democrats and Republicans participated in the protest. “They are opposed to repealing the Affordable Care Act. Our position is to preserve and strengthen it, and do what we can to make it work for more people, but certainly not repeal it, which would result in over 95,000 Mainers losing their health insurance, and over 20 million Americans overall. We want our Sen. Collins in particular to stand with us on this issue, not with some of the folks in Washington who seem to not get it.”

Malon said protests are expected to happen indefinitely every Thursday at 9 a.m. at Collins’ office, though they will not be affiliated with Organizing for Action, and will tackle a variety of topics, not just health care.

Biddeford resident Pat Boston, a registered nurse and protester, said she and other protesters hoped to convey to Collins that they want to see the Affordable Care Act preserved.

“We’re hoping to get Sen. Collins on board even more than she is about protecting health care coverage, particularly for the citizens of Maine, and trying to preserve the advances that we got with the Affordable Care Act,” she said.

Boston is also president of the Maine chapter of the American Nurses Association, which is the only full-service professional organization that represents America’s entire registered nurse population of 3.6 million, according to its website. She retired from nursing in 2015 after 40 years in the profession, and said that the American Nurses Association has been concerned about coverage and provision of health services to the general public with access to care for decades.

“We see the repercussions as nurses,” Boston said. “We see people who don’t get basic preventive services, so they come to us with advanced hypertension, diabetes which is not well maintained and causes complications, (and) children not getting preventive care they should get” because their parents can’t afford it.

Despite being there to send a message to Collins to preserve the Affordable Care Act, Boston lauded her for coming forward with a replacement for it, which others have not done, she said.

“At least she has stepped forward with a plan. I commend her for that,” Boston said.

Annie Clark, communications director at Collins’ office in Washington, D.C., said in a statement that Collins recognizes the problem that would rise from not replacing the Affordable Care Act if it were to be repealed. There are nearly 30 million Americans who remain without health insurance, Clark said, and those with coverage are seeing increases in deductibles, premiums and co-pays.

If the Affordable Care Act was repealed, not taking immediate action to replace it would be disastrous, as it would strand millions without affordable health insurance, Clark said.

“Sen. Collins was one of the first Republicans to call for the creation of a detailed framework to replace the Affordable Care Act prior to repealing the law,” Clark said. “She introduced the first comprehensive replacement bill in the Senate last month, the Patient Freedom Act, (which) would reduce costs, provide more choices, and increase access to health care. It also retains consumer protections, such as protecting those with pre-existing conditions. Sen. Collins is focused on fixing the system to ensure that it is truly sustainable and affordable.

“Sen. Collins meets with thousands, literally thousands of constituents, each and every year and she really values all of that input.”

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