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To the editor:

At least 500 healthcare activists and advocates lined the halls of the Dirksen and Hart Office Buildings in Washington, DC on Sept. 25, many of them in wheelchairs, to protest the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill that is up for a Senate vote this week in another attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Some of those protesters were from Vermont, and a few are from Bennington. At least 180 people were arrested, including a young man from Readsboro who is a member of the Bennington group of Rights and Democracy Vermont.

Thanks to the courage and dedication of these activists from all over the country, the Senate Finance Committee went into a brief recess `until order was restored,' and then recessed for the rest of the day. Soon after that, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine joined Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky with her stated intention to vote against repeal. If these three hold firm the Republicans' attempt at ACA repeal will fail.

This is good news for Vermonters and up to 32 million people throughout the rest of the country. The directors of all 50 state Medicaid programs came out against the Graham-Cassidy bill because of the harm that would be inflicted on Medicaid recipients, in some cases to the point of death. And Vermont is second highest on the list of states that could be adversely affected, leaving thousands without access to preventative care, lifesaving procedures, equipment, caregivers, or medications.

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Today, (Sept. 26), these same brave souls are in Republican senators' offices, voicing their concerns, their fears, their personal stories. Once again the Vermont and Bennington contingent is among them. They speak for themselves, yes, but also - perhaps most especially - for all of us.

This afternoon's breaking news is `Senate GOP Abandons Health Bill Vote.' According to reports, they found they just didn't have the votes. I have no doubt the hard work of our tireless activists had a lot to do with that good result, especially with the visual of senators - and much of America - watching as police officers removed people in wheelchairs, sometimes bodily, from the Senate meeting room.

So now we can breathe a little easier, for a while at least, about our healthcare. If it's threatened again, our intrepid crews will be there again on our behalf.

— Genie Rayner



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