- Ola Ojewumicommunity organizer and founder of Project ASCEND, which provides opportunities to low-income and disabled students. Last night she attended President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress as a guest of Maryland Congressmember Steny Hoyer, as someone affected by the Affordable Care Act.
During his speech before Congress on Tuesday night, Donald Trump called on Congress to address the “imploding Obamacare disaster.” “Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs and at the same time provide better healthcare,” Trump said. “Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America.” We speak to Ola Ojewumi, a disabled 26-year-old community activist who attended Trump’s speech as a guest of Maryland Congressmember Steny Hoyer, as someone affected by the Affordable Care Act. She is a cancer survivor who has also had a kidney and heart transplant.
AMY GOODMAN: During his speech before the joint session of Congress Tuesday night, President Trump called on Congress to address the, quote, “imploding Obamacare disaster.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Tonight I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs and at the same time provide better healthcare. Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for our country.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined right now by Ola Ojewumi, who is a community organizer and founder of Project ASCEND, which provides opportunities to local income [sic] and disabled students—to lower-income students. She attended the joint session of Congress last night as a guest of Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer, as someone who was affected deeply by the Affordable Care Act. Can you respond to what President Trump said last night, what it was like to be in the room, and your thoughts?
OLA OJEWUMI: It was wonderful to be in the room, but it was quite scary when I heard his comments about the Affordable Care Act. I personally was affected. I am the survivor of a heart and kidney transplant. And I was able to receive insurance and stay on my parents’ insurance until I was 26, and I received cancer treatment and became a cancer survivor this year.
So, the action of repealing the Affordable Care Act would affect millions of Americans. There are 20 million people on the Affordable Care Act, and 49 percent of Americans approve of the Affordable Care Act. And the plan to repeal and replace would mean higher costs for health insurance and lower benefits for health insurance recipients. And I am terrified of what a repeal for the Affordable Care Act will do for people like me, disabled Americans like me. I’m sitting in a wheelchair now, but disabled people, Americans, are the largest minority in the United States. And we are not protected. And I needed the protection of the ACA, and I’m grateful to President Obama for his work on that, and Congressman Hoyer’s work, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: Something that President Trump didn’t mention last night was Planned Parenthood, but it’s clearly at the target end of Republican policy right now. You know, the new head of—among other examples—of the Department of Health and Human Services, [Price], is one of the leaders to defund Planned Parenthood. Your thoughts on this, Ola?
OLA OJEWUMI: Planned Parenthood has made an astounding impact. I’ve worked with Planned Parenthood Metro Washington’s Developing Leaders Program. And I’ve distributed condoms with them at local gay pride parades for the past five years. A plan to defund Planned Parenthood would harm women’s reproductive health in the United States. It was quite a contradiction to hear President Trump advocate for women’s health rights, but in the same breath be for defunding Planned Parenthood, which isn’t just a—isn’t just a means for a woman to have an abortion, but it provides health screenings, mammograms, and provides a lot of care that poor and low-income women, specifically women of color, like me, in the Washington, D.C., area—with care that they could not otherwise get. And it would be a sad day in America for us to see more limited options for women’s healthcare and a time where Planned Parenthood is villainized and defunded by the government, when to help women’s health would be to fund Planned Parenthood and support it.