Feb. 20 2017 - Atlanta - Protestors cheered on the speakers during the rally. The “Save My Care Bus Tour” and Georgia Health Advocates rallied outside the Georgia State Capitol today in response to Republican plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Atlanta rally to save Affordable Care Act draws scores

Vicki Hopper was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2014, two days after purchasing insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Today, she, credits the health care legislation with saving her life.

“Without insurance, I would be looking at $500,000 in medical bills and I would have no way of paying them since I haven’t been able to work,” Hopper, 58, said. “To have to figure out how to pay these expenses would have added additional stress to my life.”

Hopper, along with about 100 other Georgians, gathered next to the state Capitol as part of the Save My Care Bus Tour, a two-month, cross-country tour dedicated to warning U.S. Congress against repealing the Act.

Republican lawmakers in Washington, who for years derided the measure as coercive and expensive for healthy individuals, are now balancing campaign promises to repeal the plan with potential blame for disruptions or loss in coverage if no replacement plan is enacted.

While Georgia Republicans took a wait-and-see approach after Donald Trump was elected president, Democrats have focused on Medicaid.

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, who spoke at the rally, said health care should be a right, not a privilege in Georgia and has left some unprotected.

“In Georgia, we’ve refused to expand Medicaid to cover the [portion] of our population that makes too much money for abject poverty but not enough to be healthy,” she said.

Tom Price, the newly confirmed Secretary of Health and Human Services, is tasked with overseeing a health policy that keeps insurance affordable, prevents chaos in the insurance market and decreases the government’s role in health care. The former Congressman from Georgia has already proposed a rule aimed at stabilizing the marketplace of insurance and has several alternatives for a replacement plan.

“We will not go back to satisfy someone’s political ambition so he can hurt the very people who need him most,” Abrams said.

The rally attracted Georgians fearful of losing health insurance as well as some generally opposed to actions Trump has taken as president.

Hopper directed her desperate pleas to Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue.

“I beg you to represent me, the state of Georgia and every American person in this country by putting people first over politics,” she said. “Don’t take away my health care.”

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