PITTSBURG — Protesters stood in front of Representative Lynn Jenkins’, (R-Kansas), office with “honk for healthcare signs” to encourage her to vote ‘no’ on the American Health Care Act on Thursday.
The bill passed that afternoon while they protested.
The protesters said they were there to voice their opinions in opposition to the AHCA which would do away with the Affordable Care Act — President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment.
“We are just concerned citizens making our voice heard in opposition to the AHCA,” Pittsburg resident Adriane Fain said.
Before protesting the group delivered a letter to Jenkins’ office regarding the bill.
The group had concerns about health care for those with disabilities, pre-existing conditions, the elderly and newborn children born with health issues.
“Twenty-four million people will lose health care — a number before CBO estimates,” Fain said.
Many of the protestors, including Harry L. Humphries, of Pittsburg, said the bill was rushed through and the Congressional Budget Office still had not looked over the costs.
“They rushed it through without the American people having a chance to look at it,” he said.
“President Trump said if he replaced ACA he promised pre-existing conditions.”
Frontenac resident Lynn Grant, who last year ran to replace Republican Jake LaTurner in the Kansas Senate, said ACA made healthcare affordable but what AHCA is proposing will not.
“This is a really rotten bill,” Grant said.
In a statement Jenkins said the ACA is collapsing under its own weight, and House colleagues are working on creating a more affordable health care system.
“According to media reports, only one-third of counties in the United States have one insurer in the Obamacare marketplace,” she said in the release. “Kansans deserve a better healthcare system, one that is patient-centered and creates competition to drive down the high cost of medical needs.”
Jenkins also said the AHCA provides more options for taxpayers.
“While the American Health Care Act is not perfect,” she said in the release. “It is another step in offering Kansans more choices and freedoms by repealing penalizing taxes and regulations – encouraging insurers to stay in their respective markets and enter new markets.”
Pittsburg resident Marcia Weeks used her minor pre-existing condition as an example. She said she is concerned she may not qualify for insurance again after finally having insurance when the ACA was in place.
“When you leave your job it's expensive,” she said “I looked for health insurance on the open market and was turned down over, and over and over again.”
Weeks also said the ACA got rid of lifetime caps for insurance — previously, she said many people would go bankrupt because they got sick.
Many of the protestors wished they could have looked at the bill publicly before it was passed, and had questions for Jenkins — why Jenkins voted on a bill that doesn't cover everyone and does not guarantee health care for pre-existing conditions, and why wasn’t there any vetting by the CBO.
Jenkins said those with pre-existing conditions will not have limited access to coverage and people who stay covered will not be charged more under the law.
“As for those with pre-existing conditions, the AHCA specifically states, in Section 136, that it will not limit access to coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions,” she said in the release. “Thus, legally, insurance companies cannot deny folks coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
“Most importantly, in states who do not seek a waiver, health insurers will not be allowed to charge higher premiums due to pre-existing conditions.
“In states that ask for and receive a waiver, folks who have been continuously covered for one year, and do not go without coverage for more than 63 days, will not be charged higher premiums due to their pre-existing conditions. The bottom-line is that if you stay covered, you cannot be charged more under the law.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP.