Tampa, Florida — As Republicans gathered for the final day of their national convention here in Tampa, a small but vocal group of doctors, medical students and patients marched in the heat to deliver thousands of petitions in support of the Affordable Care Act.
One of the marchers, Kenya Wheeler, was a grad student last year when he was diagnosed with CNS lymphoma, a form of blood cancer in his brain. Despite being covered through his university’s insurance plan, Wheeler quickly hit the lifetime cap on his coverage. On Thursday, he marched as a representative for thousands of other patients who stand to benefit when the lifetime cap provision of Obamacare goes into effect in 2014.
Another marcher, Dr. Donald Nguyen, is a pediatric urologist in Dayton, Ohio. For much of the march, he helped carry a banner reading “Patients Over Politics”, a mantra shouted out by the participants and plastered on signs, stickers, brochures and disposable paper fans handed out to combat the withering heat.
“I am sincerely sick and tired of the political fighting over patients’ health,” he said. “The Affordable Care Act passed in Congress. It was upheld by the Supreme Court. Now it’s time to focus on making sure patients receive proper care.”
Check out some photos from the rally:
Dr. Robert Luedecke, an anesthesiologist from San Antonio, Texas, spoke at the end of the parade. His 23-year-old son is not eligible for insurance at his current job, but thanks to provisions in Obamacare, he will be able to remain on his father’s plan for three more years.
Luedecke himself stands to benefit from Obamacare, too. A pre-existing condition (a problem with his neck) makes obtaining health insurance incredibly difficult for him. Even though he’s a doctor, he’s had to enroll in his wife’s plan.
“Do you really want to take these benefits away?” he asked. “It’s detestable.”