- Associated Press - Sunday, February 26, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Demonstrators at the Capitol in Charleston are calling on the state’s congressional delegation to hear their concerns about the Affordable Care Act.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/2lJmTrO ) reports more than 200 people gathered on Saturday to invite the representatives to an April 19 town hall event inside the state Culture Center.

Republicans Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Reps. Evan Jenkins, David McKinley and Alex Mooney have previously indicated they want to repeal the law. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has said he wants to fix the parts of the law that don’t work instead of repealing it.

One town hall organizer, West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition director Stephen Smith, said only Manchin has indicated so far that he would attend.

The demonstrators want the senators and congressional representatives to refrain from voting on any health care law before attending the town hall meeting. They also don’t want them to vote for any bill that takes away health care for West Virginia families.

Democrat Mary Ann Claytor, who ran unsuccessfully for state auditor last year, said her son has a rare disease that causes blood clots and would be unable to access the health care he needs without the ACA. She urged demonstrators to let Manchin know that “‘we’re not going to continue to support you if you don’t support us.’”

Emily Birckhead, 28, said the ACA enabled her to work through a debilitating eating disorder and graduate from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

After she became sick in 2006, “there was barely any treatment options available in the state,” Birckhead said. A college savings account started by her grandparents had to be used for her treatment.

“I was working two full-time, minimum wage jobs that didn’t offer health insurance,” Birckhead said. “It wasn’t long before until I found myself sitting in the emergency room being pumped full of fluids, literally dying. All I could think about was the $3,000 ambulance bill I would leave with.”

She eventually signed up for Medicaid after it was expanded under the ACA.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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