Advocates rally for healthcare, sending message to Rep. Harris

Advocates rally for healthcare,...

SALISBURY, Md. - The White House has released a statement on the newly unveiled GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, calling the bill "an important step toward restoring healthcare choices and affordability."

As expected. there has been a considerable amount of criticism and push back from the other side of the aisle.

Some constituents in U.S. cities have rallied against the idea of repealing the ACA, with one rally in Salisbury advocating for healthcare Tuesday.

The rally happened right outside of U.S. Representative Andy Harris' office on Main Street. While the rally did not draw huge crowds, their message clear.

"Keep us covered, don't cut our lifeline," chanted the group.

The republican-backed American Health Care Act unveiled Monday by the 'Ways and Means' and 'Energy and Commerce' committees. It follows through with the 2016 campaign promise by President Donald Trump to repeal and replace the ACA.

It dumps the ACA's individual and employer mandate, a tax penalty for people without insurance. It would instead be replaced by a continuous coverage incentive, a 30 percent surcharge on premiums for consumers for one year.

The plan also phases out the expansion of Medicaid, eventually capping federal funds to the program for each state in 2020.

Ways and Means chairman Representative Kevin Brady says the new Health Care Act transforms power from Washington back to the American people.

"We restore state control of health care, so it can be designed for the families and communities in each state. We restore the free markets so Americans have a greater choice of products, tailored again to what they need, what their family needs," says Representative Brady.

Jim Thomas, a member of the local leadership council for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, says healthcare boils down to three things: accessibility, adequacy and affordability.

"Obviously Congressman Harris is the only republican in Maryland and this is going to be republican-led, so we hope we all have a voice in what's going to happen," explains Thomas.

Those three A's are what Julienne Edwards says saved her life. The Manchester resident says she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer two years ago and rushed into emergency surgery before undergoing six months of chemotherapy.

"When you have young, healthy people contributing to the market...then that makes it possible for insurance companies not to charge higher premiums, and so by having those people in the market, that's how this has worked so far," explains Edwards.

Under the GOP plan, two major provisions of the ACA are kept in place: protection of those with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to remain on their parents' plan until the age of 26.

According to Representative Greg Walden, chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee, the plan puts the interests of patients first.

"We provide the American people with what we have asked for and what they have asked for," Representative Walden said Tuesday. "Greater choice, lower costs and flexibility to choose a plan that best suits their families' needs."

47ABC reached out to Representative Harris' office for a statement. He tells us as a physician, he fought in the Maryland senate to ensure people with pre-existing conditions were covered under the Maryland high-risk pool even before Obamacare.

"I know this is an important provision that resonates with all Americans. That's why I've always fought to make sure the Obamacare replacement plan maintains protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions," Representative Harris says in a statement. "I am very pleased to see these provisions maintained in the released draft of the American Health Care Act and look forward to reassuring constituents at my meetings in the district and in my next town hall."

Edwards tells 47ABC while the issue of healthcare has come with a lot of political rhetoric, it needs to be humanized.

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