Texans demand universal health care

Cindy Beringer reports on an Austin rally that both celebrated the survival of the Affordable Care Act--and demanded a much better system.

Protesters rally outside the Capitol building in Austin, Texas, to demand universal health care (Indivisible Austin | Facebook)Protesters rally outside the Capitol building in Austin, Texas, to demand universal health care (Indivisible Austin | Facebook)

THE DAY after the U.S. Senate's latest effort to repeal "Obamacare" was defeated, an estimated 250 people in Austin who had planned to protest against the repeal instead braved record Texas heat to celebrate the Republicans' failure and demand health care for all.

The rally at City Hall was anything but a defense of the misnamed "Affordable" Care Act. Preprinted "Medicare for All" signs were everywhere, and many speakers made clear that anything less than health care for all was unacceptable.

Disability rights groups have led the fight against repeal of basic health care rights, and several speakers told compelling stories illustrating what planned cuts or repeal of Medicaid would do to these individuals.

"With Medicaid I can live at home," said one man in a wheelchair.

A speaker for Planned Parenthood Summer of Defiance-Austin vowed to overcome the tradition of sexism in Texas and protest the series of Stone Age attacks on women's reproductive rights that are currently being debated in a special session of the Texas legislature.

After a disability rights activist led the crowd in his song "My Medicaid Matters"--sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"--we marched, chanted and wheeled our way a few blocks to Congress Avenue.

Lining both sides of one long block facing the Texas Capitol building, we stood behind a "lifeline" on which people clipped their personal health care stories and concerns to be delivered to the state's Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

The coalition sponsoring the event included the Children's Defense Fund-Texas, Our Revolution Central TX, Indivisible Austin, Austin DSA, Planned Parenthood, National Women with Disabilities Empowerment Forum, Left Up to US, Personal Attendant Coalition of Texas, Young Invincibles and several others.

If Mitch McConnell had been watching any of the day's proceedings from somewhere in his dungeon, he might have wished he'd kept his nasty cat securely in its bag.