Groups rally to defend ACA, oppose gerrymandering


COLUMBUS — A collection of community members and progressive organizations held a rally in Columbus Sunday to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and eliminate gerrymandering, the process of drawing congressional district boundaries to favor one party over another.

The event, which was held at the North Broadway United Methodist Church, was organized by constituents from Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, in addition to ProgressOhio and The Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition.

Mia Lewis, a leader of the non-partisan group Indivisible: Ohio District 12, helped assemble the event. Indivisible: Ohio District 12 has previously petitioned Rep. Pat Tiberi to hold a town hall on the ACA, organized a town hall meeting in February when Tiberi ignored the petition, and posted personal stories from constituents for whom the ACA has provided vital coverage.

“We saw a great opportunity to bring together members of ProgressOhio and The Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition with a large, fast-growing community of constituents in Central Ohio who oppose many of the reactionary and regressive policies of our newly elected federal government,” Lewis said in a news release.

“Together we are voicing our vehement opposition to Republican efforts to replace the ACA with a plan that will make health care coverage much costlier, especially for low-income and elderly citizens. At the same time, we’re supporting—and spreading the word about—plans to do away with the gerrymandering that has allowed many Republicans to win re-election in state and federal races while ignoring more progressive citizens,” Lewis added.

Sandy Theis, executive director of ProgressOhio, introduced her organization. With more than 300,000 members, ProgressOhio is one of the largest progressive advocacy organizations in Ohio.

“It strives to promote progressive solutions, correct right­-wing misinformation, and hold public leaders accountable.”

Daniel Skinner, assistant professor of health policy at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, spoke about the ACA and the currently proposed Republican replacement plan. He is an expert in health care and politics and policy, the politics of medicine and disease, hospital-community relations, and health care for vulnerable and underserved populations.

Skinner highlighted several of the serious problems with the Republican plan and emphasized the negative impact that it will have for millions of people if passed.

Richard Gunther, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University, spoke for the Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition. Gunther was one of the authors of Issue 1—a 2015 ballot measure for the Ohio General Assembly that was approved by voters 71 perecent to 29 percent.

“Gerrymandering has done serious damage to the quality of democracy in Ohio,” Gunther said. “It unfairly misrepresents the preferences of the voters, it creates ‘safe seats’ that undermine the ability of voters to hold their elected officials accountable, and it impedes the representation of communities by splintering them into bizarrely shaped districts that sometimes extend for hundreds of miles.

“The Fair Districts Ohio coalition of good government groups propose to end this corrupt practice through a constitutional initiative that we hope to place on the 2017 ballot.”

Staff report

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