Activists move to pressure local GOP lawmakers for supporting House health care bill

Activists move to pressure local GOP lawmakers for supporting House health care bill

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - The House vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act marked President Donald Trump's biggest legislative victory in the early days of his administration —  but also further ignited the Democratic base working against him.

The victory was short lived as the bill heads to the Senate where most of the amendments written to sway the most conservative lawmakers are not expected to survive.

However unlikely the bill is to make it to the president's desk in its current form, or at all, — some Americans are afraid of their health care being casualties in the Republican Party's long-promised crusade to dismantle Obamacare.

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In its current form, the House health care plan would gut Medicaid, strip employer mandated health care, ax the individual mandate, terminate a year of federal funding for Planned Parenthood, roll back taxes on those making $200,000 or more and potentially inflate premiums and the national debt.

What is seemingly fueling anger towards House Republicans voting the bill through is there are no official numbers on its economic impact. However, the Congressional Budget Office's original score for an earlier draft showed grim projections of rising premiums and 24 million people being booted from their health insurance in the next 10 years.

On Sunday, dozens of constituents protested Rep. Warren Davidson's (R-Troy) support of the GOP health care plan in Hamilton. Many of them were wearing stickers with their medical conditions written on them, pointing to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) not guaranteeing access to insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, one of the bill's newest and most controversial amendments

Some of the stickers read "cancer," "mental illness" and "sexual assault."

"It's inhuman to vote on something with no data," Terri Nelson, a social worker that treats mental health and Miami University professor said protesting Rep. Warren Davidson's support of the bill.

Sean Hansan said he is a cancer survivor and organizer of Indivisible Ohio 8, an 8th Congressional District branch of the national liberal grassroots activist group. He is demanding Rep. Davidson hold a town hall and explain his support of the controversial bill.

"We want to make sure Davidson knows this will really hurt people in his district," Hansan said. "We know this bill, if signed into law, will kick 24 million people from health insurance. He probably knows that, but we want to make sure everyone else in our area knows that."

Rep. Warren Davidson is quick to say the bill is not ready for prime time and falls short on the Republican Party's promises. However, he defends his vote saying the AHCA is a critical first step at taking down federal laws implemented in the Obama-era.

"Far more needs to be done, and we must not rest until we have accomplished the mission," Davidson said in a statement following voting in favor of the bill. "House Republicans must remember that the AHCA is just the first step. The AHCA deals with the individual market; it does not directly address the way most Americans access health care coverage. We must continue pushing to help markets rein in costs and expand affordable choices across the nation, while protecting meaningful coverage. Far more needs to be done, and we must not rest until we have accomplished the mission."

Representatives Chabot, Wenstrup, Stivers and Messer also supported the AHCA.

"The vote yesterday likely was not the vote for final passage in the House," said Davidson's spokesman Alexei Woltornist). "The bill will go to the Senate, where they will make changes so it can pass through the Senate."

Spurred by attitudes the administration and Republican lawmakers have shown towards climate change and women's reproductive rights, the nation has seen a ground swell in liberal activism since Trump took the oath of office.

Health care is not different. Sprawling grass roots efforts are vowing to continue venting anger toward lawmakers that they see threaten their health care, while firing warning shots at moderate Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman the consequences of aligning himself with the president's efforts to tear down Obama-era health policies.

The only lawmaker in the Tri-State to vote against the bill was Rep. Thomas Massie, who represents Northern Kentucky. The libertarian-leaning Republican consistently heckles Republican leadership and the president via Twitter on their health care measures.

"The AHCA is like a kidney stone- the House doesn't care what happens to it, as long as they can pass it," Massie tweeted on the eve of the bill's vote.

Democratic lawmakers are also fired-up, vowing to pour money into attack ads against vulnerable Republicans starting this week. Some Democrats are hopeful the health care vote opens the door to retake lost ground in 2018. Sen. Sherrod Brown who is one of the Republican Party's top targets in the midterms says the bill threatens "nearly 1 million Ohioans."

"It's very disappointing," Sen. Sherrod Brown said in an interview with FOX19 NOW. "They voted against Gov. Kasich's wishes and despite all of them getting government subsidized healthcare. It's not morally right."

The lack of support in the Senate paints a potentially grim future for House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump's health care initiatives.

Portman has already come out in strong opposition to the House health care plan. Republicans can only lose two Senate votes or the bill is dead on arrival. Moderates like Portman and Susan Collins of Maine are unlikely to be swayed with major cuts in the measure. Staunch conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul are outspoken about not getting in line for anything short of a full repeal of Obamacare.

"I've already made clear that I don't support the House bill as currently constructed," Sen. Portman said in a statement Thursday. "I continue to have concerns that this bill does not do enough to protect Ohio's Medicaid expansion population, especially those who are receiving treatment for heroin and prescription drug abuse."

Activists in other districts say there are several planned demonstrations over the course of the next few weeks.

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