Blending healthcare and the arts in Cincinnati

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AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker was in Cincinnati Aug. 23 to take part in the Drive for Our Lives bus tour in support of the Affordable Care Act. The 18-state tour, which runs throughout the congressional recess, also highlights families, seniors and children in jeopardy of losing healthcare.

Ricker joined with former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and other healthcare advocates, including members from the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers.

"People believe in and need the healthcare that Obamacare provides," said Cranley, who explained how the ACA has benefited his city and its citizens; he has committed to continue working to expand affordable healthcare.

Ricker with Sibelius and Julie Sellers

Ricker reminded the crowd that although the battle in the Senate to defeat repeal of the ACA was won, there is more work to be done. "We know that Republicans and President Trump remain determined to take away healthcare, no matter how reckless it is or how many million of Americans would be hurt," Ricker said. "We know this because President Trump is still threatening to cancel subsidy payments that help millions of Americans afford their insurance."

Instead of trying to undermine the law, Ricker called on Trump and the GOP to work with the growing number of senators and representatives from both parties who want to fix the ACA. "The AFT will continue to work with all of you to protect healthcare, improve access and affordability, and expand healthcare for all," said Ricker. "We will not remain silent while Republicans try to sabotage Obamacare and leave millions of Americans vulnerable."

"This is not about politics, it's about people's lives," said Sebelius, who grew up in Ohio where her father was once governor. "There is nothing more important than getting affordable healthcare to every American, and I think this is what this bus tour is about. It's telling the average citizen that their voices matter."

Ricker on a school visit

Sebelius said she is thrilled to have played a small role as HHS secretary in getting citizens healthcare. "What we can't do is go back to the old days. This is not a time for silence; this is a time for clarion calls. Let people know you are a healthcare voter and that this matters to you."

Cincinnati was also a stop on the AFT's national back-to-school tour. While in town, Ricker, along with CFT President Julie Sellers, had a chance to visit the School for Creative and Performing Arts, a K-12 magnet school in downtown Cincinnati.

Watch video of the bus tour.

[Adrienne Coles]