On April Fool’s Day, April first, a nonpartisan group of local citizens will join marchers around the US for a very serious cause: healthcare access. Organizer Nilofer Couture is planning a satellite march in Sylva that will coordinate with marches set for Washington D.C., New York City, Seattle and other communities across the country.
The goal is “equitable, affordable, quality health care for all” and an extensive Bill of Rights. Under the new administration, people everywhere have grown concerned with the future of healthcare and losing the important gains that were made with passage of the Affordable Care Act. Marchers are insisting that healthcare is not a red or blue issue, but a human one. “Regardless of whom you voted for last November, women don’t want to go back to the days of paying more for their health insurance than men”, says Nilofer. The group’s Bill of Rights includes demands that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on, such as ‘those with pre-existing conditions receive exactly the same rates and the same access to coverage as everyone else’ and ‘No one loses coverage as the result of any legislative transition period.’
The aim of the march is to put a human face on the people with so much at stake- all Americans. “You shouldn’t have to worry that you’re one bad test result away from bankruptcy,” says Lauren, explaining “if coverage caps are once again instituted every person is at risk.”
Asheville activist and journalist Leslie Boyd will be the keynote speaker who, along with Dr. Ed Morris from Franklin, Doug Trantham (Behavioral Health and Clinical Director, Cherokee Hospital), Caitlan Wyatt (Community Field organizer, Planned Parenthood) and Joe Sam Queen, (former Democratic member of the House of the NC House of Representatives), will speak at the rally before the march. They will speak about those lives that stand to be affected by any loss of coverage. The speakers feel passionately about healthcare as a human right. “Women and children especially stand to lose so much in preventative care that they’ve been getting for free. Things like well-woman and well-child visits, vaccinations, mammograms, and pap smears.
Marchers will gather first at the Bridge Park in Sylva from 1:00 – 3:00 pm for a rally and then march down the sidewalks of Mill Street and Main Street where the march will end at the fountain.