The Drive For Our Lives bus, which set out from Los Angeles a month ago, arrived in Bangor Thursday for a brief stop.
A handful of people convened beside the bus to call for better health care, and to call out members of Congress who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Congress is not working to fix health care. Bruce Poliquin and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are working on the same thing they’ve been working on for years, and that’s taking from those with the very least and giving more to those with the most,” said Sam Portera with the Maine People’s Alliance, addressing the small gathering in downtown Bangor. “Our 32,000 members aren’t going anywhere. The millions of people who took to the streets on Jan. 21 aren’t going anywhere. The millions of people who voted against this president aren’t going anywhere. We’re going to stand and fight for health care for every single person.”
Retired Bangor physician and current Maine state Sen. Geoff Gratwick also came to the the bus stop. He said the poor state of health care in the U.S. is an issue that can’t be ignored any longer.
“This is the issue of our time. This is the reason I spent 40 years caring for people who are sick, who need health care. I’ve become appalled by what’s happening to regular people, people like you and like me, who want to be healthy, want to be productive, want their families to work well and we have a system that doesn’t serve them,” he said.
Mark Lupinetti, a cardiac surgeon in Bangor, said he routinely sees patients when it’s too late, because they didn’t have access to care sooner.
“Often they come to me when they’re in severe heart failure and I’m doing the best I can to salvage whatever I can,” he said.
And Lupinetti said he’s tired of seeing patients go without medication because they can’t afford the prescription.
“A rich society like ours should be able to cover everybody,” he said.
The bus is a project of Save My Care, a grassroots nonprofit formed a year ago in response to repeated threats by GOP lawmakers to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The Bangor stop was one of the bus’ final stops before it completes its journey. It will roll on next to New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania before arriving in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 6.