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PRESS RELEASE/100+ Occupy DC Congressional Offices; Demand “Don’t Kill Me, Kill the Bill”

Contact: Paul Davis, pdavisx@gmail.com, 202-817-0129
Mika De Roo, m.deroo@housingworks.org, 347-585-6051
onsite: Jennifer Flynn, jflynn@populardemocracy.org, 917-517-5202

100+ Constituents Occupy DC Congressional Offices; Demand “Don’t Kill Me, Kill the Bill”

Patients with pre-existing conditions and health providers from at least 21 states to occupy numerous Republican offices in acts of civil disobedience to unwelcome elected officials on their first day back from recess

WASHINGTON D.C. – More than 100 constituents from at least 21 states, including patients with pre-existing conditions and health providers, were arrested in DC on Monday after occupying offices of Senators and US Representatives poised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and make massive cuts to Medicaid. The protesters demanded that their elected officials stand up for the health of millions of working and poor Americans, and kill the health care bill proposed by House and Senate leadership.

People with chronic health conditions, doctors, nurses and health care aides, traveled from Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Nevada, Virginia, West Virginia, and other states to demand that their elected officials kill the Republican healthcare bill.

The “Better Care Reconciliation Act” would take away health insurance coverage from 22 million working class and poor Americans. Instead of passing this legislation, protesters called on elected officials to support a single-payer healthcare system, in order to provide universal health coverage.

“Congress should not be making the decision about who lives and who dies. Our country can not go backwards to the days of old when you simply died if you were too sick to work. Senators should go on notice: if you pass a bill that repeals Obamacare and takes health care from millions of people, we will make sure you lose your job. My husband has Multiple Sclerosis. This issue is deeply personal to me, and my children and the outpouring of activists willing to engage in civil disobedience and put their bodies on the line proves that we are not alone. Don’t kill us. Kill the bill,” said Jennifer Epps-Addison, Co-Executive Director and Network President for Center for Popular Democracy.

“It’s clear is that if this bill is passed, we will see millions of people suffering from treatable diseases, being bankrupted by expensive medical bills, and dying earlier in life,” said Dr. Kevin Burns, a family physician who did his residency in Arizona. “Unless politicians like Flake and McSally stand unwaveringly against this bill and the effort to dismantle Medicaid, they will feel the consequences at the ballot box. Unfortunately, certain unemployment for politicians pales in comparison to the deadly consequences this bill will have on families in Arizona and across the nation.”

The demonstrations took place on Monday, July 10, which was Congress’ first day back from recess, and was aimed at keeping up the pressure on Senators follows a series of protests across the country last week and occupations on Capitol Hill before recess.

“The bill proposed by the Senate leadership will be devastating to our patients— it poses a mortal threat to the health and well-being of millions of Americans, and to the health security of the country,” said Jean Ross, the co-president of National Nurses United, the largest union of nurses in the country. “We are here today to call on Senators to vote against this flawed and deadly proposal, and to instead support guaranteed health care for all, through an improved, expanded, Medicare for All program.”

The Senate repeal bill closely mirrors the House repeal bill. It weakens coverage and consumer protections for everyone with private insurance; eliminates Medicaid expansion; and ends Medicaid’s guarantee of coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities who had Medicaid even before the Affordable Care Act. Those cuts are being made in order to pay for $541 billion in tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.

The protests were led by Housing Works, Center for Popular Democracy and its affiliates, including Arizona-based LUCHA, Rights & Democracy Vermont, People’s Action, and National Nurses United. These groups were joined by a nationwide network of activists who have been filling town hall meetings of their elected officials around the country to demand the healthcare America needs, rather than sacrificing lives to pay for a tax cut for the wealthy. CPD is a lead organization in Health Care for America Now! Coalition.

Ending Medicaid expansion alone would take healthcare away from up to 11 million Americans, but the Senate bill goes even further. The Senate bill radically restructures the federal funding for the basic Medicaid program to starve it over the years, forcing eligibility and benefit cuts, creating huge burdens for state budgets, closing hospitals, and costing millions of healthcare jobs. Its permanent cuts are even deeper than in the House bill and get larger after the CBO score’s 10-year budget window.

Medicaid provides coverage to one in five Americans, including 30 million children. It pays for half the births in the United States, 75% of all family planning services, 64% of nursing home care, and 30% of all care for people with disabilities. Nearly 2 million veterans get healthcare through Medicaid. Medicaid also costs far less per beneficiary than either Medicare or private health insurance, and its costs have been rising more slowly than private insurance.

Constituents occupied the following offices today: Sen. Flake-AZ, Sen. Heller-NV, Sen. Cruz-TX, Rep. Curbelo-FL, Sen. Cotton-AR, Rep. Crawford-AR, Rep. Meehan-PA, Sen. Toomey-PA, Sen. Portman-OH, Sen. Gardner-CO, Sen. Murkowski-AK, Sen. Burr-NC, Sen. Capito-WV, Sen. Alexander-TN, and Speaker Ryan-WI.

Posted on July 10, 2017 at 12:30 pm

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