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Marchers for health care cautiously celebrate, vow to continue fight

  • Carmen Rosado, left, from the Stavros Center for Independent Living, listens to state Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, addressing a crowd in Pulaski Park after she also spoke at the "Our Lives on the Line" march and rally in Northampton on Saturday, July 29, 2017. The event was part of a national day of action against Republican efforts to repeal or scale back parts of the Affordable Care Act. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Diane Norman, center, of Hadley marches with about 200 people down King Street in Northampton on the way from Childs Park to Pulaski Park during the "Our Lives on the Line" rally on Saturday, July 29, 2017. The event was part of a national day of action against Republican efforts to repeal or scale back parts of the Affordable Care Act. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Rev. Todd Weir of First Churches in Northampton speaks during the "Our Lives on the Line" march and rally in Northampton on Saturday, July 29, 2017, part of a national day of action against Republican efforts to repeal or scale back parts of the Affordable Care Act. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Carmen Rosado from the Stavros Center for Independent Living speaks in Pulaski Park during the “Our Lives on the Line” march and rally in Northampton on Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Claudia Lefko of Northampton listens to speakers in Pulaski Park during the "Our Lives on the Line" march and rally in Northampton on Saturday, July 29, 2017. The event was part of a national day of action against Republican efforts to repeal or scale back parts of the Affordable Care Act. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, center, and state Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, right, were among approximately 200 people who took part in the “Our Lives on the Line” march and rally in Northampton on Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Chanting "Trump care has got to go," about 200 people march past Northampton City Hall en route from Childs Park to Pulaski Park on Saturday, July 29, 2017. The "Our Lives on the Line" rally was hosted in part by the organizations Indivisible Noho and Pioneer Valley Women's March as part of a national day of action against Republican efforts to repeal or scale back parts of the Affordable Care Act. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • State Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, addresses a crowd in Pulaski Park during the "Our Lives on the Line" march and rally in Northampton on Saturday, July 29, 2017. The event was part of a national day of action against Republican efforts to repeal or scale back parts of the Affordable Care Act. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • About 200 people march down King Street in Northampton on their way from Childs Park to Pulaski Park during the “Our Lives on the Line” rally on Saturday, part of a national day of action event against the Republican plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Carmen Rosado from the Stavros Center for Independent Living speaks in Pulaski Park during the "Our Lives on the Line" march and rally in Northampton on Saturday, July 29, 2017, part of a national day of action event against the Republican plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



For the Gazette
Monday, July 31, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — When she started planning a health care reform march two months ago, Debby Pastrich-Klemer thought she would be giving a speech in anger.

But then, the day before the march, the “skinny repeal” bill, a scaled-down version of plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, failed to pass through the Senate, thanks to “no” votes from three Republican senators in the early hours of Friday morning.

So Pastrich-Klemer decided she could be a little more celebratory at the march Saturday afternoon.

“I had a lot of rewriting to do, and maybe some of our banners don’t make sense now,” Pastrich-Klemer said. “But I think everyone here feels a lot better after seeing the results of that vote.”

Pastrich-Klemer, a member of Indivisible Northampton, organized the march along with Rachel Maiore and Lindsay Sabadosa to make their voices heard in support of continued debate on health care reform.

Several hundred people marched with them from Childs Park to Pulaski Park and made it clear that they did not support recent GOP efforts to scale back health care policies from the Obama administration.

“I’m cautiously optimistic after Thursday night in the Senate,” said Baxter Chandler of Easthampton. “The ACA is by no means a perfect solution, but the Trump administration’s attempts to completely dismantle it are just cruel, and that cruelty shouldn’t go unnoticed.”

Many people carried signs reading “health care, not wealth care,” as they followed a police escort down the middle of Prospect Street.

Some women wore red robes and white hats in emulation of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Margaret Atwood’s dystopian book, recently adapted as a TV show, where the lives of women become rigidly controlled by the government.

But amid the symbols of protest was also a fake coffin emblazoned with the word “TRUMPCARE,” meant to celebrate the collapse of the repeal efforts.

“I was so excited when I saw that Senate vote, and so proud that enough people made the right choice,” said Carmen Rosado, who is a client of the Stavros Center for Independent Living. “Cutting Medicaid and Medicare would affect a lot of people with disabilities like me.”

Many of the marchers were also advocating for a single-payer, government-sponsored health insurance system in Massachusetts, an option on the table in multiple bills currently in the state Legislature.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, and state Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton, spoke about such bills when the march arrived at Pulaski Park.

“It is right to keep fighting for health care for everyone in our state and our country,” McGovern said. “We were supposed to lose that vote on Thursday night, and I want to thank all of you, because it’s thanks to people like you that we won instead.”

While the march was more joyful than many protest marches are, Rachel Maiore, another organizer, said she hoped those who attended the march would continue to pay attention to developments in the health care debate.

“People often wonder why we have marches like this, and they’re really to keep the pressure on our government as a community,” Maiore said. “Let’s make sure the decisions that get made are what’s really best for the American people.”