Healthcare Activists Press Past House Vote To Repeal ACA | WGLT

Healthcare Activists Press Past House Vote To Repeal ACA

May 4, 2017

Protests over healthcare began right after the election of President Trump (pictured last year) and continue today.
Credit Jon Norton / WGLT

Progressives in Bloomington Normal made a point of going out in the rain to area Congressional offices to protest the House vote on the GOP healthcare repeal.

The measure passed the house and moves to the Senate, which has decided to work on its own bill and not take up the House version.

Indivisible 18 activist Susan Cortesi said people with pre-existing conditions will be thrown into inadequately funded high risk pools. She said that puts the benefits of Obamacare at risk because rates for older people or those with medical issues will skyrocket.

The number of people reporting bankruptcy has gone down in the last few years since the ACA took hold, because now they don;'t have to worry about going bankrupt because of their medical rights. We can't go back to that," said Cortesi.

Conservatives have argued that they accept that available coverage is a social good, but the preferred method to allow that is to place people with serious medical issuesinto high risk pools and then have the government contribute to reduce the premiums for the people in those pools.

Democrats and progressives like Cortesi said the $5 billion allocated for the risk pools is not enough and those people will be faced with very high premiums. Cortesi said U.S. Healthcare should be a single-payer program.

"If we could do that, we could all shoulder the cost of what it takes to stay healthy, but the risk pool just puts so many of us into a financial situation that we can no longer afford," said Cortesi.

Cortesi also said the rush job on the bill shows a lack of transparency.

Protests and activism are not likely to subside. Indeed, the group Stand Up For Social Justice is are already scheduling a die-in next Tuesday on the lawn of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.

Participants in the vigil will lie down and hold “gravestones” with examples of those they say will die, parents, children, veterans, friends and future leaders.

Member Linda Unterman said previous estimates were that tens of thousands would lose their lives due to the downgrading of the Medicaid expansion.  Now, added to those numbers, she said, are those who will die because of life-time benefit caps, and the higher cost of premiums.  

“Creation of high risk pools are not a substitute for accessible insurance. Their higher cost amounts to a tax on the sick,” said Unterman.

Money in the stability fund of the House version of the bill, Unterman said does not have to be used to help subsidize patients in high-risk pools.  States can use the money in other ways to try to stabilize the market. She said that means the American Health Care Act would likely fall short of the amount needed for high risk pools.  

There are an estimated almost 300,000 people with pre-existing conditions in the districts of GOP Congressmen Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood.

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