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9th District residents protest about affordable care, other issues
Protesters take photos Monday of a "Trump's Wall of Shame" display following their gathering outside U.S. Rep. Doug Collins' office on Washington Street in Gainesville. - photo by Shannon Casas FCN regional staff

HALL COUNTY - About 100 sign-carrying, chanting protesters gathered in front of U.S. Rep. Doug Collins’ Gainesville office Monday morning, calling for, among other things, Congress preserving the Affordable Care Act.

“Seeing all these news stories coming out of Washington about repealing it and they don’t have a replacement that they have shown us yet, they are playing with our lives,” said one of the speakers, Marisa Pyle.

“Without any kind of plan, it puts so many people in the U.S., who depend on this care, in fear, and it has to stop.”

Much of the protest was focused on national issues — and President Donald Trump in particular, with a pyramid-shaped array of boxes, “Trump’s Wall of Shame,” on display.

But some of it was directed at Collins, the 9th District’s Republican lawmaker.

“I just want to tell Congressman Collins, you can run but you can’t hide,” a speaker said into the megaphone at the rally in front of the Hosch Building on Washington Street. “Sooner or later, you’re going to have to face your constituents.”

Pyle, along with two other area residents, met with Collins for about 45 minutes about their concerns over the health care reform law, often referred to as Obamacare.

“We feel like we need to not repeal ACA,” said Dawson County resident Bette Holland, who was part of the meeting.

Collins “was very receptive to everything we talked about,” she said. “We still have differences, obviously, about what we think needs to be done. But there are a few things we agree on, such as keeping the pre-existing conditions clause and keeping children under 26 on their parents’ (insurance).”

Collins, speaking from his office after the protest, agreed the meeting with the residents was civil, but “we have different ways at looking at this issue.”

He said he believes ACA, which was President Barack Obama’s centerpiece legislation, “has destroyed the individual health care market, that it has made costs unattainable and coverage out of reach for those who even want to have it through the (insurance) exchanges.

“It’s in a death spiral. Obamacare cannot sustain itself. … (ACA supporters) are wanting to defend a system that is broken.”