Healthcare Rally

Tim Jost, chairman of Rockingham County Democratic Committee, speaks to the crowd Tuesday at a rally on Court Square in support of Obamacare.

HARRISONBURG — Valerie Serrels has struggled to pay for health care.

The Bridgewater resident and mother of five spent 10 years without health insurance because “I simply could not afford” it.

Two years ago, she received coverage under the Affordable Care Act for herself and two of her children who live at home. She wants congressional Republicans to know repealing it will hurt her.

“The Affordable Care Act provided a way for the three of us to get a good health care plan at an affordable cost,” Serrels said. “I can’t imagine moving back to a very vulnerable and uncertain place.”

Serrels was one of about 65 people to rally Tuesday on Court Square in support of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, as the 115th Congress began its first session.

With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and President-elect Donald Trump taking office this month, the GOP has made repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law a top priority.

Critics say the law has hurt businesses and is economically unsustainable, among other issues.

“Even though President Obama is still in office, Congress today was beginning the process of repealing one of his signature achievements,” said Tim Jost, chairman of the Rockingham County Democratic Committee, a Washington & Lee University law professor who has written extensively on health care law.

Tuesday’s rally, attended by community activists including Stan Maclin and former Harrisonburg Councilman Kai Degner, was sponsored by Virginia Organizing, a grass-roots organization “dedicated to challenging injustice,” according to its website.

Attendees flashed signs reading, among other things, “Coverage Means Survival,” “Honk 4 Healthcare” and “Access To Health Care Is A Basic Human Right” before marching around Court Square.

Jost said the law benefits 1,610 Harrisonburg residents and 3,765 Rockingham County residents, citing numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“These are our friends; these are our neighbors; these are people we go to church with,” he said.

Organizers displayed signs with the phone numbers of Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, and urged attendees to call and make their voices heard.

Jost said attendees hope Goodlatte, a fierce critic of the law, could be swayed from repealing it.

“Maybe it’s futile, but my hope is that Congressman Goodlatte will listen to us,” he said. “We’re his constituents. He’s representing us in Congress.”

Republicans have repeatedly said they would replace the law with a better one, but Jost doubted they could.

“They’ve had six years to come up with a replacement and haven’t yet,” he said. “Why should we trust them to do so in another year or two?”

Contact Nolan Stout at 574-6278 or

(5) comments


I don't understand why they were want to be attached to the legislation. It's the worst I have ever seen in my lifetime. If it's not changed, premiums are just going to keep skyrocketing.


It is idiotic hyperbolic comments from people like Tim Jost that perpetuate myths and fake news. "They had 6 years to come up with an alternative". Why would they work on plans until recently; knowing that Obungles or hiLIARy (had she been anointed) would have vetoed it. C'mon Tim, think a little bit before you say goofy illogical statements like that. Admit the plan was a debacle built upon a foundation of lies from Obama and his minions and replace it. Keep the few good parts and throw the rest into the Potomac before it bankrupts the country.


I'll bet the mother of 5 mentioned in this article is receiving subsidies, paid for by taxpayers.


Agree that the Affordable Care Act is not affordable unless you are the one getting subsidies from tax payers. The truth is that Democrats have had over 6 years to fix the law but have done nothing to fix it.

citizen t

I am having a really hard time finding it affordable, since i work for a company that provides insurance, i am required to take the insurance provided, which is unaffordable at almost $700 a month, and doesn't cover a thing till i pay another $2500 deductible, no copay at a regular appt, full price prescriptions. Totally not affordable for me, and i can't go on the market place to shop for my insurance.

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