Community members, healthcare workers and faith leaders demand representatives hear their personal stories and the destructive toll their political maneuvering will have on millions of American families
WASHINGTON, DC – In a show of escalating resistance to repealing the Affordable Care Act, dozens of constituents from across the country flooded Capitol Hill Tuesday to protest the GOP push to dismantle the ACA and to demand to hear their representatives’ plan to keep millions of American families covered. The group of local activists, faith leaders, nurses and home care workers directly confronted their Republican Senators who are at the forefront of the repeal. These senators include: Toomey (R-PA), Blunt (R-MO), Hatch (R-UT), Heller (R-NV), and Daines (R-MT).
“I came to our nation’s capital for one purpose: to make my senator look me in the eyes and tell me how he plans to make sure my family has the healthcare we depend on,” said Roxanna Giron, a home care worker to two veterans, mother, and recipient of the Affordable Care Act in Las Vegas. “The actions of these senators will have direct and devastating consequences for millions of families like my own. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed without a replacement, both my clients and children risk losing access to the care and medication they need to survive. They are choosing to play politics with our health and we will not stand for it.”
Earlier in the day, as constituents confronted Republican legislators, protests erupted outside of the Senate Finance Committee’s vote to confirm Thomas Price to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Price has been a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act and has written legislation that would repeal most of the sections of Obamacare and shift toward what Republicans call a “market-based” approach.
Holding signs that asked “What’s your plan for us?” protestors disrupted hallways, cafeterias, and member offices, including Sens. Blunt, Hatch, Toomey, Daines, and Heller. Participants demanded to speak to their representatives to tell them the real-life toll a repeal of the law would have on their lives and to hear their plan to keep their families covered. When senators like Toomey refused to meet with their constituents, faith leaders like Father Regis Ryan offered prayer over their offices to ask them to dig deep in their souls and make the right decision.
“Over the past 40 years, I’ve worked to provide access to health care to the poor—and I know that repealing the Affordable Care Act is a matter of life-or-death,” said Father Regis Ryan, the Executive Director of STO-ROX Neighborhood Health Council near Pittsburgh. “As a pastor, my aim is to reach out to all humans—to feed the hungry, house the homeless, cheer the fallen, and care for the sick. I would hope Sen. Toomey and his colleagues in Congress feel this responsibility to their constituents too.”
The protests culminated in a final show of disruption outside of Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office, where protesters blocked the hallway demanding to hear his plans to keep American families covered. Shouting “What’s the plan for health care? What’s the plan for us?” nearly 50 protesters were arrested and escorted out of the building.
Frustration is growing in all corners of the country as plans to dismantle the ACA move forward. Today’s protests follow actions in Philadelphia just last week where hundreds of nurses, pediatricians, home care workers, and small business owners flooded the streets to protest repeal of the Affordable Care Act, in a showing that Mic called “the resistance” to Trump and GOP’s plans to repeal the law. In mid-January, ordinary citizens protested at state capitols across the US, including Helena, Chicago and Richmond, demanding that Trump and Congress preserve vital and necessary programs like the ACA, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Despite recent polling showing that the majority of Americans overwhelmingly support the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration and GOP members of Congress plan to repeal the law, which would leave an estimated 30 million people without access to health care — including prescriptions and treatments for chronic conditions. Without a replacement plan, experts report than at estimated 43,000 people could die annually.
The Medicaid Expansion benefits some of our most vulnerable populations in states across the country. Four out of every 10 Medicaid dollars are spent on care for people with disabilities and one-quarter of the program’s funding is used for seniors.