Rally supports health care act

Virginia Organizing celebrates Affordable Care Act

Virginia Organizing, a grassroots organization, held a rally yesterday afternoon at the steps of the U.S. courthouse in downtown Charlottesville to celebrate the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care bill.

Virginia Organizing, founded in 1995, aims to "empower people in local communities" to work for change, according to the group's website.

Yesterday's rally was one of many health care-related demonstrations held across the country as the U.S Supreme Court began a three-day oral argument period to review the act Obama signed into law March 2010.

Supporters collected signatures petitioning Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli and Gov. Bob McDonnell to end legal opposition to the ACA. "I'm concerned about Gov. McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli, who stated they would not enforce the ACA unless there were criminal penalties involved," said Dell Erwin, a Charlottesville resident who attended the event. "I don't think our elected officials should be able to choose which federal laws they enforce."

Cuccinelli filed suit in Virginia v. Sebelius, which argued the individual mandate provision of the ACA is unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond dismissed the case last September.

Rally participants addressed the difficulties of suffering from pre-existing conditions or being in a certain age group while also trying to secure health insurance. Fourth-year College student Maria Colopy spoke at the rally in support of the ACA. She said the ACA helped young adults receive health coverage while searching for jobs. "It is especially hard for fourth years to find a good job with health benefits," Colopy said. "Being allowed to stay on our parent's health insurance until we are 26 allows us greater freedom to decide what to do next year."

The rally also highlighted the ongoing legal challenge to the ACA in Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida, which the Supreme Court began hearing yesterday.

Despite the national controversy surrounding the ACA, Erwin said there is no viable alternative. "I think most people against it are either misinformed or uninformed despite sound information out there on the bill," he said. "Another of my concerns is that Republicans who seek to repeal the law offer us nothing in return."

Several of the ACA's provisions have already taken effect, including a ban on lifetime dollar limits for essential benefits from insurance companies. Additional provisions will continue to take effect through 2020.

Arguments at the Supreme Court are expected to continue through tomorrow.

Charlottesville doctor Greg Gelburd said, "I pray that they have the wisdom not to make it illegal." Virginia Organizing awaits the Supreme Court's decision on the ACA, which is expected to be made by late June.

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