Democrat groups rally together to continue health care conversation

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act rally on the corner of McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Calling it an “emergency rally,” local progressive and Democrat groups raised their voices and their protest signs in the center of town Wednesday evening in opposition of the pending Senate health care bill.

Gathering on the corner of Valencia Boulevard and McBean Parkway, members of CA25 United for Progress, Women’s Initiative Network, SCV Young Democrats and Democratic Alliance for Action gathered to voice their support for the Affordable Care Act.

“When you bring more numbers out, it shows there is more support for the Affordable Care Act,” Philip Germain, chair of CA25 United for Progress said.

The rally of about 30 people came a day after the Senate voted 51-50 to begin discussing a future health care bill. On Wednesday, the Senate failed to approve a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a set replacement in a 45-55 vote.

Protesters hold their homemade signs against the sky in an attempt to bring awareness to recent healthcare legislation. Ryan Painter/For The Signal

The groups have done a collaborative rally once before, the first time in February in front of Congressman Steve Knight’s (R-Palmdale) Santa Clarita office on Center Point Parkway.

Knight voted in favor of the House Republicans’ American Health Care Act in April, receiving backlash from local ACA supporters.

“We want him to know the majority of his constituents oppose this,” Germain said.

The progressive group’s chair shared his personal connection to the ACA, saying he feared the implications of its repeal for his father who has cancer.

President of SCV Young Democrats Andrew Taban cited similar concerns, saying he knows someone who would be at risk of losing their home in order to continue paying for health insurance.

“This isn’t just another rally or protest,” Taban said. “These are humans lives.”

While all the groups in attendance have different mission statements, they all have the same common goal, according to Taban. It would be productive if legislators could work together as the groups were doing at the rally, he said.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act rally on the corner of McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Specifically concerned about women and children, Women’s Initiative Network Co-founder Julie Olsen said it was important for government officials not to repeal the ACA, but to address the parts of it that need fixing.

Community members have been especially politically involved recently, Olsen said, participating in the movement for health care by participating in protests and emailing and calling their elected officials.

“What’s wonderful about this is everyone feels there is something that can be done,” Olsen said.

Democratic Alliance for Action member Tom Gapen said living in a traditionally Republican area makes it important for him to voice his ideals as a Democrat.

“As Democrat, liberal and progressive thinkers, we need to band together against the three branches of government…who are making really poor decisions,” Gapen said.

One local Democrat was riding his bicycle by the protest when he decided to spontaneously join in.

“If I can support people like this, I can have my voice heard,” Santa Clarita resident Sam Eze said.

Eze said he and his sister are currently looking to get documented for school under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), so he wants to rally with Democrats.

“I think I am a Democrat now,” Eze said. “They are the only ones who seem to care about people in general.”

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