Hundreds stage impromptu protest as Republicans vote to strip away health care

House Republicans aren’t listening to their constituents.

A protester holds a sign reading, “Fred Upton: My dad lives in your district. He has kidney failure. Shame on you.” at the rally to stop Republicans from passing a bill that could roll back care for millions of Americans. CREDIT: Esther Yu Hsi lee
A protester holds a sign reading, “Fred Upton: My dad lives in your district. He has kidney failure. Shame on you.” at the rally to stop Republicans from passing a bill that could roll back care for millions of Americans. CREDIT: Esther Yu Hsi lee

Video and additional reporting by Katelyn Marmon

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hundreds of people took to the nation’s capitol on Thursday to protest the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, ahead of a narrow win by House Republicans to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) bill, or Trumpcare.

Chanting slogans like “vote them out” and “shame, shame, shame,” several hundred people gathered in a park near the Capitol building around noon to protest the latest version of Trumpcare that could result in as many as 24 million Americans losing their health coverage by 2026.

This version of the bill — which Republicans voted on before it received a Congressional Budget Office score and before many of them could read it — will make it more difficult (and expensive) for those with preexisting medical conditions to get care. A proposed amendment introduced by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) would put an additional $8 billion towards high-risk pools over five years, but that fund would cover only 76,000 enrollees, or four percent of the estimated 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.

ThinkProgress spoke with multiple people at the rally who gave compelling testimonies for why they didn’t want to see the rollback of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Watch it.

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“I would literally be bankrupt if it weren’t for the Affordable Care Act,” Jennifer Brown, a protester at the rally, told ThinkProgress. “If I were to ever lose my job or be without employer provided coverage, I don’t know I would have health insurance.”

Brown said she would continue attending rallies and donating funds to get representatives out of office if the House votes for the bill because “they don’t represent the best interest of the American people.”

“There’s no official statement on its impact or how much it will cost,” Denice Lombard, the spouse of a union person covered under her partner’s health care, said. She decried the bill as “completely politically motivated.”

“It will not serve the public. Its outcome will hurt people on Medicaid and will increase poverty in this country because people will have to make choices,” she added.

Charlie (left) was saved by the Affordable Care Act after she was born at 26 weeks and weight a little more than a pound. CREDIT: ThinkProgress Facebook
Charlie (left) was saved by the Affordable Care Act after she was born at 26 weeks and weight a little more than a pound. CREDIT: ThinkProgress Facebook

Charlie, a rambunctious four-year-old, held a lollipop as she ran circles around her mom holding a sign that read “ACA gave her a chance. She has no future with Trumpcare.” Without the Affordable Care Act, she may not have survived her three month stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after she was born at 26 weeks weighing 790 grams, or 1 lb 12 oz.

“Because of the ACA, there were no lifetime caps which she would have exceeded before she came home from the NICU,” her mom said. “She’s also able to be insured because there’s no preexisting restrictions. The ACA is really a lifesaver for her. If she loses it and we’re on Trumpcare we’re out of luck.”

“Charlie has the chance to catch up and lead a normal life,” she added. “It’s through PT, OT speech, her specialist, and without insurance we won’t have access to those anymore, which really cuts out her chance at anything.”

Kelly Brown was at the rally on behalf of the foster kids she works with. CREDIT: ThinkProgress Facebook
Kelly Brown was at the rally on behalf of the foster kids she works with. CREDIT: ThinkProgress Facebook

Kelly Brown was at the rally on behalf the children she works with at her job working with foster care kids and people who have aged out of the foster care system.

“I work with kids that rely on mental health issues through Medicaid,” Brown said. “Medicaid expansion is incredibly critical to keep people healthy and whole and it should be a universal right. It would impact them and their rights to benefits.”

David Barrows (right) and a female companion in their medical gowns bearing false bottoms. CREDIT: Esther Yu Hsi Lee
David Barrows (right) and a female companion in their medical gowns bearing false bottoms. CREDIT: Esther Yu Hsi Lee

David Barrows and a female companion both wore colorful medical gowns (complete with exposed posteriors) as a symbolic gesture.

“This is to say we’re not covered,” Barrows explained. “We are not covered by this Trump scheme medical plan and we’re left helpless, really. I’m a senior so my costs would go up. The medicine I have to take are very expensive so if it’s going up even more, it’ll drive me out of my house.”

Barrows said that while he’s grateful to have Medicare, other people — especially young people and people with disabilities — are not as lucky. He’s also worried for his two siblings with severe mental disabilities who may lose their health care.

“It’s extremely immoral,” Barrows said.