With Obamacare once again facing a court challenge from the President Donald Trump (R) administration, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) rallied to preserve the current healthcare system in front of the Jersey City Medical Center.
“It may be April Fool’s Day, but we don’t think our healthcare is a joke. I’m glad to be here together with so many groups in favor of us saving our healthcare, I just wish that it was under better circumstances,” the senior senator said.
“I wish we were here today to talk about how to protect the workers from rising premiums and address deductibles so high that they send families into debt, but that’s not why we’re here … Today, we’re coming together once again to call out Donald Trump for trying to take us backwards.”
Trump has previously questioned the constitutionality of federal protections for people who have pre-existing medical conditions, Menendez said, calling the latest court battle a “legal assault” on the American people.
“It is an attack on all of us … Because despite all of Trumpâ€™s campaign promises about better, cheaper health care â€“ Trumpcare has always meant â€˜no careâ€™,” he added.
A handful of people at the rally, which included signs that read “I can’t afford to be sick,” “#SaveOurCare,” and “Make America Sick Again? No Way!,” who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions spoke at the podium – such as Jersey City senior Tish Jackson.
“We’ve got to have it, we are seniors: we depend on Medicare, we depend on us coming to this medical center, again, if we lost that, what do we have? We have nothing. Trump just wants to destroy our nation as it is, but as I stand here before you, the Affordable Care Act is a must,” she exclaimed.
Jackson also led a brief chant of “What do we need? Affordable Care Act now!”
During the question and answer session with the media, HCV asked Menendez his thoughts on White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney guaranteeing that no one with pre-existing conditions would be without medical coverage if Obamacare is repealed.
“You’d think in 10 years that they (the Republicans) would be able to get this right, that they would be able to have a plan that we could all judge. If they have a plan that’s better, let them put it forward,” Menendez answered.
“And when we have tried to have legislation to specifically further guarantee the rights to healthcare without pre-existing condition discrimination, they have not been forthcoming. So I don’t trust an administration whose willing to strike down the entire law simply for the purposes of gaining whatever political points they think they’re gonna get with a base of their party.”
Texas, along with 18 other states, filed suit last year in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the ACA in light of the repeal of the individual mandate penalty contained in the 2017 Trump Tax Bill.
A federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of the statesâ€™ argument that since the penalty was repealed in the tax bill, the individual mandate was no longer a tax and the mandate was no longer a valid, constitutional exercise of Congressional authority.
This holding led the judge in the case to rule that the entire ACA was unconstitutional. as the mandate was not severable from the rest of the law.
Afterwards, Trump and Congressional Republicans initially intervened in the case to strike down the insurance provisions, including protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.
However, the U.S. Department of Justice announced last week that it will stop defending the ACA in court and, on appeal to the 5th Circuit, will join Texas and the other state plaintiffs in arguing the entire ACA is unconstitutional.
Representatives from Action Together New Jersey, BlueWaveNJ, Metropolitan Family Health Network, CarePlus New Jersey and The New Jersey Hospital Association attended this afternoon’s event.
Jersey City Councilmen Rolando Lavarro, Jr. and James Solomon were also in attendance.
The rally streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: