During senate campaign event, Warnock talks about expanding access to healthcareFILE PHOTO: Rev. Raphael Warnock held a press conference in Atlanta and was joined by several labor leaders. He discussed his support of expanding access to health care and encouraged people to get out and vote. Photo by Zoe Seiler
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By Zoe Seiler, contributor
Atlanta, GA – The Rev. Raphael Warnock held a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 12, outside the IBEW building to discuss expanding access to healthcare.
Warnock said he is committed to fighting to expand access to affordable healthcare and said he has been focused on this issue in the state for many years. He also explained the importance of healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I understand that it’s a contradiction to call workers essential workers and not provide for them essential benefits,” Warnock said. “If the workers are essential then their healthcare is essential. If the workers are on the front line then healthcare cannot be on the back burner.”
Warnock wants to improve the Affordable Care Act, defend protections for pre-existing conditions, lower the cost of prescription drugs and expand Medicaid, according to his campaign website.
On a recent trip to Comfort, Ga. Warnock heard concerns from residents about their hospital shutting down in the middle of a pandemic and about how that meant the loss of jobs.
Several labor leaders in attendance also addressed the issue of rural hospitals closing in the state.
“The healthcare system in Georgia is already pretty atrocious,” said James Williams, president of Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council. “We have people that have to drive up to two hours to get to the nearest hospital to take care of themselves. Now our Republican senators want to make it even worse by this lawsuit to decimate the ACA.”
Williams has union health insurance but said that not everyone has that luxury and some people have to think about paying rent and food or paying for prescriptions and medical bills.
Warnock discussed his support of the Affordable Care Act and the protections for people with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, cancer or COVID-19.
“I am the only candidate in this race who believes that healthcare is a human right,” Warnock said.
Janice Birt, a bus driver for Atlanta Public Schools, shared that the ACA allows her children to stay on her health insurance plan until they are 26.
“Access to quality healthcare in America must be a right and not a privilege,” she said.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler doesn’t think the solution to healthcare is a government-run system that would get rid of employer-provided insurance, according to her campaign website.
She supports reform that would lower healthcare costs, empower patients with more choices and increase access to healthcare, her website says.
Decaturish reached out to Sen. Loeffler’s campaign for a reaction to Warnock’s comments but did not receive a response.
As the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments on the lawsuit that could potentially overturn the Affordable Care Act, some of the conservative justices on the court appear to not be in favor of striking down the entire law, the New York Times reported.
Warnock said he thinks and hopes the Supreme Court will uphold the ACA but said that Congress will still be able to create healthcare legislation no matter the ruling.
“The Supreme Court is one branch of our government,” Warnock said. “But (the ACA) has been the law of the land for years now and that hasn’t stopped members of the GOP from voting time and time and time again to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I think that the issue is too important for us to assume that they won’t continue to attack it.”
Healthcare will be on the ballot in January, Warnock said. He encouraged voters to make their voting plans by registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot and showing up to the polls by Jan. 5.
“If you want to protect your healthcare you must make sure that your voice is heard at the ballot box.” Warnock said. “It’s really your healthcare that’s on the ballot. The well-being of your family is on the ballot. The ability of working families to thrive is on the ballot.”
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