Press Release: Thousands Protest Republican Repeal Bill Coast to Coast

For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 23, 2017
Media Contact: Robyn Shapiro, robyn.shapiro@berlinrosen.com, 202-800-7407

Thousands Protest Republican Repeal Bill Coast to Coast

Protesters in National Day of Action in Nearly 20 States Highlight Life-saving Benefits of Affordable Care Act, Dangerous Impacts of GOP Health Care Repeal Bill

Thousands of Americans came out in Washington, D.C., and held events in over 40 cities across the country to protest the Republican plan to take away health care from an estimated 24 million Americans, slash Medicaid and raise costs for consumers to give $465 billion in tax cuts to the wealthy and the big insurance and drug companies. This national day of action was organized by Health Care for America Now (HCAN) on the 7th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becoming law and as House Republicans are expected to vote on the Republican’s American Health Care Act (AHCA).

“The Republican repeal bill provides major tax breaks to insurance and drug companies and the wealthiest Americans on the backs of America’s seniors and families,” said HCAN co-director Margarida Jorge.

And HCAN co-director Ethan Rome added, “This bill will devastate Medicaid, blow a hole in state budgets and put consumers with pre-existing conditions at risk so the wealthiest 400 Americans can get a tax break of $7 million a year.”

In Washington, D.C., nearly a thousand gathered at Freedom Plaza to share stories from those who stand to be harmed the most if the ACA is repealed. Prominent speakers, including Rep. Keith Ellison and Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards, called on members of Congress to abandon the bill and work to protect America’s health care. Planned Parenthood patient and organizer Grecia Magdaleno, who was able to receive a pap smear and a follow-up colposcopy at Planned Parenthood when she needed it, spoke out against provisions to block access to the critical care provided to women across the country by Planned Parenthood.

The bill would prohibit millions of Americans – mostly women – from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Every year, 2.5 million women, men, and young people rely on Planned Parenthood for essential health care services, like birth control and life-saving cancer screenings. Many of these patients will have nowhere else to turn to for care if Planned Parenthood health centers are forced to close their doors.

“Simply put, the American Health Care Act is the worst piece of legislation for women in a generation,” said Richards. “This bill would reduce access to affordable birth control and strip coverage for maternity care – making it harder to prevent unintended pregnancy and harder to have a healthy pregnancy. Republican leadership is taking aim at the same women who already face the greatest barriers to health care: immigrants, women with low incomes, women of color, and women in rural areas. Americans will not stand for this.”

After the rally organized by HCAN partner the Center for Popular Democracy, protesters marched to the White House to ramp up pressure on President Donald Trump to end his crusade to take away people’s health care. Along the way, they staged a die-in in front of Trump International Hotel to highlight the serious consequences of the Republican repeal bill. Symbolizing the 24 million who will lose health insurance under this disastrous plan, 24 protesters were arrested after refusing to cede their ground in front of the White House. Those arrested included Jennifer Epps-Addison, who is co-executive director and network president of the Center for Popular Democracy and whose husband has multiple sclerosis and could face discrimination for his preexisting condition, as well as higher costs, if this bill becomes law.

“The repeal of the Affordable Care Act threatens our communities and leaves our most vulnerable populations in fear for their health and safety,” said Epps-Addison. “Our democracy should serve all of our communities, not wealthy special interests. We must hold lawmakers accountable and urge them to stand with the people.”

In Chicago’s Federal Plaza, hundreds of protesters are marching to highlight the Republican bill’s $465 billion dollar tax cut for the wealthy and drug and insurance companies, and are holding a rally featuring speakers who represented the vulnerable Americans Ryan has chosen to leave behind.

And at Congressional district offices and events in more than 40 cities across the country, constituents staged “emergency health care” events, testifying to the life-saving benefits of the ACA and demanding that their representatives vote no on the Republican plan. Many of the events featured mock emergency rooms with protesters dressed as medical professionals to highlight how emergency rooms would be overrun with uninsured patients if the Republican bill is approved.

Protesters took to the streets in cities from coast to coast, including Allentown, PA; Ballwin, MO; Baton Rouge, LA; Binghamton, NY; Burnsville, MN; Chester, MD; Cleveland, OH; Columbia, MO; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Eden Prairie, MN; Flemington, NJ; Freehold, NJ; Gallatin, TN; Hartford, CT; Hudson, WI; Joplin, MO; Kalamazoo, MI; Kansas City, MO; Kingston, NY; Lancaster, PA; Lansing, MI; Lewiston, ME; Marlton, NJ; Mays Landing, NJ; Montpelier, VT; Morristown, NJ; Orlando, FL; Otsego, MN; Poplar Bluff, MO; Rolla, MO; Salisbury, MD; Springfield, MO; Tarpon Springs, FL; Tom’s River, NJ; Trenton, NJ; Warren, OH; Wausau, WI; Wentzville, MO; and Westfield, NJ.

According to experts, more than 40,000 people will die annually because they no longer had health insurance if the Republican bill became law. Older Americans will lose their coverage or be forced to pay thousands of dollars more per year for their health care. Premiums will increase by double digits.

“We should be celebrating the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s passage and the over 22 million people who have gained coverage, but instead we’re bracing for the crisis that this Republican bill could create for so many millions that will lose health care,” said protestor Jean Busby, a 61-year-old woman with diabetes who is threatened with loss of coverage and high prices if the Republican repeal bill becomes law. “Our representatives in Congress have an opportunity to stand up for people like me and protect our health care instead of cutting coverage and increasing costs while giving more tax breaks to big corporations and the richest Americans.”

 

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Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is the national grassroots coalition that ran a $60 million five-and-a-half year campaign from 2008-2013 to pass, protect, and promote the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and protect Medicare and Medicaid. HCAN has come back together to fight the Republicans’ all-out effort to take away America’s health care and put people at the mercy of the health insurance companies again.