PITTSBURG — Stuffed like sardines and spilling out into the street, a group of about 70 protesters crowded inside and out of U.S. Senator Jerry Moran’s (R-Kansas) Pittsburg office on Tuesday.
Among Pittsburg resident protesters, the Kansas chapter of the activist disability rights organization ADAPT were present during the protest. The organization held protests simultaneously in Pittsburg, Hays and Wichita.
Moran, who has been the target of the protests across Kansas, said he opposes the GOP bill which would repeal and replace Obamacare.
“The Senate healthcare bill missed the mark for Kansans and therefore did not have my support," Moran said in a statement.
"I am pleased with the decision to delay the vote — now is the time to take a step back and put the full legislative process to work," Moran's statement read. "I remain committed to working with my colleagues and continuing conversations with patients and providers in Kansas to find a path forward that truly repeals and replaces Obamacare with a plan that makes certain Kansans will have access to more affordable and better quality healthcare.
“We are looking for a concrete saying he will vote against the bills,”
The U.S. Legislature postponed a vote on the healthcare bill Tuesday until after a recess for the Fourth of July holiday.
In a release, ADAPT said their goal was to ensure Moran understood what would happen if he were to support the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which they claim will lead to high premiums for pre-existing conditions.
According to Operations Manager of Topeka Independent Living Resource Center Evan Korynta, the protesters had concerns about the loss of insurance coverage for not only the disabled, but the elderly, low income families and expectant mothers.
“These are the people who will not be able to afford private health insurance,” he said.
Kansas ADAPT Organizer Mike Oxford said although the nursing homes are receiving more funds, the people who are benefiting from home and community based services could lose their services.
“The cuts will be made to independent living, which is an optional service,” He said. “Nursing is a mandatory service.”
During the protest, the Pittsburg Police Department was contacted to remove the protesters from Moran’s office, which is connected to US Bank.
In response to the escort from the building, Oxford told the officer the fact that the office is in a private building is another issue.
“When the government rents offices on private property it puts us in a weird place — private property rights trespassing versus public property rights, and where we can freely assemble,” Oxford said to the officer. “We need you guys to help us make the case that there is a public issue here.”
An officer replied to Oxford and said they were not trying to stop them from voicing their beliefs, but were trying to redirect the protesters to a public space.
Oxford said Moran’s office is public space.
“His office is public property,” Oxford said. “They are renting their public place in private places where we lose our constitutional right to freely assemble there.”
In a release, Kansas ADAPT Organizer Ami Hyten said the BCRA is a threat for those in independent living and those with disabilities.
“This is the biggest direct threat to independent living for older Kansans and Kansans with disabilities that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” she said in the release. “It is time for Sen. Moran to get off the fence and support the rights of Kansans with disabilities and older Kansans to appropriate, cost-effective home and community services.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.