As the Supreme Court prepared to hear King v. Burwell on Wednesday, which will decide the fate of Obamacare in 37 states, one Texas man was supporting affordable healthcare in his own way. Brownsville resident Eugene "Gene" Novogrodsky biked 300 miles to support Planned Parenthood so that his community and nearby communities can have access to affordable healthcare. The name of the trip was "The Spirit of 76," which carries a special meaning for both Novogrodsky and Planned Parenthood. After leaving last Thursday, Novogrodsky ended his solo bike journey on Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas, where he received a triumphant welcome.
Novogrodsky said that the idea for the fundraising bike ride came from his better half, his wife, Ruth Wagner, and also explained significance behind the number 76. He told the McAllen, Texas, paper The Monitor:
Ruth came up with the idea. I turned 76 this year and this will also be the 76th anniversary of Planned Parenthood in South Texas, and it took off from there.
What inspired them to raise money for Planned Parenthood in the first place? After the state slashed funds in 2013, Novogrodsky and his wife started to see how the lack of affordable healthcare was impacting lower-income families in their community — effects that can be long-term and devastating.
So then the 76-year-old (or should I say young?) took matters into his own hands. Anyone who wished to support him or Planned Parenthood was able to sponsor his trip, by donating 10 cents per mile or more. All the money the Spirit of 76 raised will go towards the local Planned Parenthood organizations in Brownsville and Harlingen, Texas.
Over the course of his 300-mile journey, Novogrodsky stopped in Edinburg, Falfurrias, George West, and Pleasanton along the way, logging 15 to 20 miles each day.
And this isn't the first time Novogrodsky has taken up a cause close to his heart. In January, he joined a crowd of people outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Brownsville to protest a lawsuit against President Obama's executive action on immigration. Novogrodsky read a poem called "Shadows" about defending others' rights, and said that he agreed with Obama's plan, even saying that he wished more immigrants could benefit from it.
On Wednesday, another Obama order is under fire; the U.S. Supreme Court hears King v. Burwell to decide whether it's legal for states who relied on the federal exchange to provide tax subsidies to Americans who signed up for Obamacare. The plaintiffs point to the fine print, which says that tax subsidies were only allowed for marketplaces "established by the state." Therefore, Obamacare should not be legal in the 37 states that used the marketplace set up by the federal government.
If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, an estimated 9.6 million people will be left without health coverage. And you better believe that a man like Novogrodsky is not going to take this news lying down.
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