It was standing room only, as hundreds gathered at the Workers United building on East Avenue in Rochester and flooded into the hallways in support of the Affordable Care Act.
President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to overturn and replace the Affordable Care Act and majority Republicans in Congress have begun the process of repealing.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-Fairport) hosted the event, joined by Assemblyman Harry Bronson, members of the University of Rochester medical school and a number of constituents who shared their stories about how the ACA has affected their lives.
Slaughter's main concern was that people might not know what they stand to lose if the ACA gets repealed, including the ability for young people to stay on their parents health insurance until they’re 26, and protections for those with preexisting conditions, as well as others.
"Before this bill, eight states and the District of Columbia considered domestic violence to be a pre-existing condition."
Jonathon Siegal is from Rochester and shared how the ACA has helped himself and his wife who has MS, and how he wonders what the future might hold for them if it’s repealed.
"My biggest fear is that you will end up in a high risk pool, because they offer no guarantee that insurance will be affordable or cover the disease that got you into the pool in the first place. Once you give people the invidious label "high risk," does anyone in this room really believe they will get fair treatment?"
Nearly 400 people joined the Congresswoman Sunday afternoon, including Claire McLauchlin. She talked about her son Chris, who is 24 and has a kidney condition.
"When the ACA passed I found comfort in the promise that Chris would always have health insurance. It’s because of this law he can stay on our coverage until he’s 26. I felt reassured that he wouldn’t be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition."
McLauchlin works as a clinical psychologist, and has seen the bill benefit many of her patients.
"All of us, even if we're healthy right now, might have something brewing that we don’t even know about. And that’s what insurance is about. "
Michael Healey is a first year University of Rochester Medical student and also spoke at the rally. He and fellow UR Medical Students are part of a movement calling themselves "ProtectOurPatients," who say medical students and doctors are in a unique position that lends itself to helping those at risk of losing their health care.
"We have important stories to tell, we see on the front lines what these policies do to people on street corners, to middle class communities, to all Americans. And those stories need to be heard. So if we can be that voice, that’s why we stand here today."
The Rochester event was one in a series held nationwide Sunday in support of the Affordable Care Act.
At the local rally, Slaughter also responded to recent comments made by President-elect Donald Trump about civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis, someone she has worked closely with in Congress.
"John Lewis is my brother, he is a member of my family, I love him. I hate it more than anything the response he got from the president elect."
As for the upcoming Inauguration, Slaughter said she will be in Washington, and has yet to decide her plans for the day. Some Democrats in Congress have said they will boycott the inauguration.