Shore Progressives Prepare to Address Health Care, Other Issues At Harris Town Hall

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Members of Eastern Shore progressive organizations, along with thousands of non-partisan progressive citizens groups formed to oppose the Trump agenda, are relieved that the Affordable Care Act has so far survived Republican attempts to repeal it.

“The persistent and strong national grassroots activism of these groups played a major role in the ultimate failure of the Republicans to bring a replacement bill up for a vote,” said Emily Jackson, co-leader of Together We Will – Delmarva.

Acknowledging that the ACA can be improved, many members of Talbot Rising are proponents of a single-payer system. “If 35 of the world’s developed nations can provide healthcare to all their citizens as a right, not a privilege based on income, we can do it here too,” said Denice Lombard, a member of Talbot Rising and the Talbot County Democratic Women’s Club. “A single-payer system fixes all the problems of healthcare we face. It’s high quality, affordable and accessible.”

Lombard dismissed the notion that individuals and states should pick and choose what kind of healthcare they need. “All of our bodies need healthcare at different times in our lives,” she said. “None of us has a crystal ball to see what our health care needs will be, and all of these arguments twist our society into a giant pretzel that ultimately protects the rights of for-profit insurance companies over people.”

Although many constituents had planned to press 1st District Rep. Andy Harris on the Republican healthcare bill at his town hall, scheduled for Friday, March 31, at 6 p.m. at Chesapeake College’s Todd Performing Arts Center, turnout is expected to be strong even though GOP leadership failed to muster enough votes to pass the bill last week.

“We have plenty of other issues to discuss with our congressman,” said Talbot Rising founder Michael Pullen. “We want Andy Harris to represent our interests, but when he co-sponsors a bill to undermine public education, one to withhold federal funds from communities that want to protect immigrants from deportation and provide sanctuary for them, and when he comes out in support of destroying the EPA, people can’t just stand by and let that happen without a fight,” said Pullen. “While Trump proposes to add $54 billion of our tax dollars to the defense budget while taking money away from the needs of the American people and the environment, we have no choice but to protest.”

Dorotheann S. Sadusky, president of the Democratic Club of Queen Anne’s County also weighed in. “As a member of the Labor, Health & Human Services Committee, Congressman Harris must tell us if he intends to support Trump’s budget that calls for elimination of such agencies as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Inter-American Foundation and the Chemical Safety Board to name a few.”

Harris set aside only one hour for the town hall in a venue that holds 1,000 people. Several regional progressive organizations have requested that Harris extend the length of the meeting and have vowed to continue the town hall outside with or without the congressman. “We will be heard one way or the other, rain or shine,” said Debbie Krueger, co-leader, of Together We Will – Delmarva.

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