Health care advocates create human chain around SF General Hospital

- Supporters of the Affordable Care Act gathered Wednesday evening to create a human chain around San Frrancisco General Hospital. 

They billed their effort: "Holding Hands for Health Care," and spread word via the grassroots group "Indivisible SF."  

"Health care is under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back," protestors chanted, outraged by GOP efforts to repeal the longtime law, even though they have no viable alternative.

"This is a matter of life and death for many people," event coordinator Svetlana Karasyova told KTVU.
Karasyova arrived in San Francisco two years ago, a gay political refugee, granted asylum from Russia.
She was also suffering from breast cancer, and needed treatment.

"My dear friend passed away and I'm still here," Karasyova said sadly. "It could be that the quality of service I received at UCSF Radiation-Oncology is why I'm still living."

Karasyova's care was covered by MediCal, known as Medicaid elsewhere, programs that were expanded under Obamacare.

"Kill the bill, don't kill us, kill the bill, don't kill us," shouted about 200 demonstrators as motorists passing the Medical Center honked in support.

Many in the crowd were relatively young and healthy, and well-insured, but still adamant about preserving the ACA for those who need it.

"Everybody's had a personal experience with health and health care at this point," commented graduate student Kate Pennington, "and I think coming out and being in solidarity with others also feels really good in a time that's scary. It's something I can do."  

Self-employed engineer Jonathan Raphael said he buys his health insurance on the exchange known as Covered California.

"I'm  happy to contribute to the pot. I think it's critical that those that have, give to those that don't have access," Raphael noted.

He pays more for insurance because he earns more in income, but doesn't begrudge it, and wishes more politicians thought that way.

"At some point maybe they just lost touch with what it's like to live in a community where some people don't have much," observed Raphael.

"It seems like they're pretty locked up in their own bubble." 

The ACA has been criticized for rising premiums and deductibles, but supporters say those were easing as more participants joined. Now the programs are under a cloud of uncertainty.

"Certainly we could put effort into improving it," declared Emily Matthews, a mom with private insurance who brought her 8 year old son to the protest.

"Repealing it and going back to nothing, going back to the tragic stories of people without insurance, is not somewhere we should go," exclaimed Matthews.

During an open mic session, the crowd heard from a woman who contracted Lyme disease five years ago.
"I got terribly sick out of the blue, " shared Ana Saldamando of San Francisco, "and thank God Obamacare came along." Saldamando was 31 at the time.

"Every month my medicine would cost me $3200 dollars out of pocket, but with Obamacare they are $9!"
The crowd cheered. 

The overriding message for Washington, this is not a political game, but a human issue.   

"When we stand here and hold hands, we feel each other and we live here together," Mingjing Huang of Indivisible SF told KTVU.

"Maybe they need to come hold hands with us."  



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