Constituents of Rep. Tom Reed (R-23) staged a mass ‘die-in’ on the sidewalk outside the Congressman’s Geneva Office on Tuesday afternoon.
Some laid down with tombstones indicating cause of death: “Killed by ACA Repeal,” “Had a Pre-Existing Condition” or “Could Not Afford the Premiums.”
Protesters, or ‘mourners’ as they dubbed themselves sang a dirge and carried signs. They came to express their anger at Reed’s vote last Thursday in favor of the American Health Care Act (ACHA), the Republican bill which dismantles many provisions of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.
The die-in, which drew more than 60 people, was organized by members of three organizations: Indivisible Seneca Falls, Concerned Voters of NY 23rd and Reed’s Last Term. “We did this on short notice,” explained Valerie Brechko, one of the organizers, ”but we wanted to give people in the Geneva area a chance to express their feelings about Reed’s vote on this Bill.”
She added, “Constituents at the western end of the district packed town hall meetings this past weekend, and gave the Congressman an earful about his vote on the ACHA, but most of us living here could not travel that far.”
Rachel Weil, one of the die-in’s organizers, said that it was a humorous way to send a deadly serious message. The ACHA, she asserted, would hurt older and poorer Americans while giving a large tax break to the rich.
She also alleges that it fails to protect people with pre-existing conditions from being charged higher premiums — allowing insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more than they charge younger Americans.
Opponents also say it cuts more than $800 billion in federal spending on Medicaid.
Congress did not wait for the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to deliver an analysis of the legislation before voting, which means the true impact or cost of the legislation is still unknown.
Weil noted, the CBO had estimated that the earlier version of the ACHA introduced last March would reduce the number of Americans with health insurance by 24 million over the next ten years.
She also emphasized that that provisions of the ACHA may bring troubles to rural Upstate New York. By slashing Medicaid reimbursements to states, the bill will cost New York taxpayers an estimated $2.4 billion in order to compensate for the shortfall in federal funds.
Opponents have said it will put pressure on hospitals serving rural areas, which will need to provide emergency services to the uninsured.
Weil described a provision within the AHCA ‘disturbing’ as it allows insurance companies to exclude mental health and addiction treatment services from coverage plans. “We have a terrible opioid epidemic here, and this bill won’t help us address it,” she added.
Opponents of the AHCA at Wednesday’s event encouraged readers to visit www.factcheck.org/2017/03/the-facts-on-the-gop-health-care-bill/ to learn more about the health plan and what it might mean for the region.
Rep. Reed defended his decision to vote in favor of the AHCA in a press release issued May 4th calling it “a great victory for the American people” and said that “the AHCA upholds protections for pre-existing conditions and the expansion of Medicaid, which help our most vulnerable populations.”
All photos contributed to FL1 News by Liza Abraham