Yesterday, I was honored to address the 108th Convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Baltimore. For 108 years, the NAACP has worked to advance social justice in Maryland and across our country. Since its founding, the organization has stood up to some of the most horrific acts of racism and helped pass many civil rights laws, including the landmark Voting Rights Act. Until now, every single president starting with Ronald Reagan has addressed the NAACP Convention. But, President Trump, who skipped this event as a candidate last year, again turned down the invitation this year to come and discuss his agenda and the challenges our country still faces today to meet the full promise of equal rights, equal opportunity, and equal justice.

Perhaps the president did not want to respond to questions about his Orwellian "Election Integrity Commission” which has nothing do with voting integrity and everything to do with manufacturing excuses to limit access to the ballot box for many American citizens. We know, for example, that the three judge panel of the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said of a North Carolina "voter integrity law" that its "provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision" and that it "imposes cures for problems that did not exist.” Together we must continue to protect voting rights and work to build a more perfect union, where all people are treated with dignity and respect and have the opportunity to work hard and achieve their dreams. That is something we should all be fighting for.

Let's be clear—most parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are working very well. That's why the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has told us that eliminating the ACA—as President Trump has proposed—would have a devastating impact on health care. Specifically, the CBO has already told us that the repeal of the ACA would result in a 100% increase in premiums and 32 million fewer Americans with health insurance.

Still, the ACA can be improved and strengthened. We should come together on a bipartisan basis to implement common sense measures to reduce the costs of premiums, deductibles, and co-pays of insurance purchased through the health care exchanges.

But President Trump is not interested in that. In fact, since his first day in office, he has actively worked to sabotage the exchanges so he can claim that "Obamacare failed." On his very first day, Trump issued an order telling federal agencies not to enforce essential components of the health care exchanges. Maryland's largest insurer, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, has said they increased their proposed premiums by a whopping 20% simply because of that Trump order. So remember, when Trump says "let Obamacare fail," he is really trying to push it off the cliff. We need to expose that cynical ploy. Please call upon everyone you know to tell Trump to stop working to destroy the ACA, and instead, work with Democrats to improve our health care system.
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