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‘I don’t think it’s civil to kill people’: rage continues over Republican health bill

The Guardian – By Adam Gabbatt and Edward Helmore – Saturday 1 July 2017

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Photo: A demonstrator listens as Senate Democrats hold a press conference in opposition to the Republican bill. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA.

Republican legislators face fiery town hall meetings, as constituents fume over figures that say 22 million would lose insurance under their plan.

Anger over Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to spill over into town hall meetings, as voters express fears that they and millions of others could be left uninsured by any Trump-endorsed healthcare legislation.

At a town hall in Baton Rouge on Friday, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana faced angry questions over the Senate healthcare bill.

A medical doctor and an opponent of the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA), Cassidy is co-sponsor with Susan Collins of Maine of an ACA replacement called the Patient Freedom Act. On Friday he spent more than an hour meeting constituents, at a meeting that was called to discuss flood recovery.

Amid heckling and chanting, Cassidy attempted to describe his efforts to draft new legislation and answered angry questioning about the Senate healthcare plan which did not come to a vote this week, after party leaders realised they did not have enough votes to pass it. On Monday, a Congressional Budget Office analysis said the Senate plan would result in 22 million Americans becoming uninsured by 2026.

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Photo: Senator Bill Cassidy, is co-sponsor with Susan Collins of Maine of an ACA replacement called the Patient Freedom Act, speaks to the media outside the Senate chamber. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA.

“The draft legislation you spoke on has been superseded and frankly we have not yet seen what the legislation will be upon which we vote,” Cassidy said, adding that he had “been expressing concern” over coverage for pre-existing conditions and giving a lengthy explanation about the ills of the ACA.

As the discussion devolved into a confrontation the senator, clearly rankled, offered testy responses to questions and jeers from the crowd.

“You’re not being respectful,” he said, repeatedly.

“I’ll tell you what’s rude,” one man retorted. “Kicking 22 million people off their healthcare.”

The rebuke brought cheers.

Cassidy countered: “I am doing my best to make sure we continue coverage care for those with pre-existing conditions, eliminate mandates and lower premiums.”

That prompted shouts of: “No you’re not.”

The tenor of such exchanges echoed Republican town halls in other states in recent months. Such rancour shows no signs of easing and in a divided party, pressure is increasing. On Friday Ohio governor John Kasich, a candidate for the 2016 presidential nomination and a persistent critic of efforts to repeal the ACA, vetoed a proposed freeze on Medicaid expansion in his state.

Democrats are also seeking to pile pressure on Republican senators and representatives. On Friday Joe Kennedy III, a Massachusetts representative who is a great nephew of President John F Kennedy, delivered the party’s weekly address.

In an impassioned speech, Kennedy labelled the Republican reform as “Trumpcare” and said it would introduce “two systems, one for the powerful and the privileged, the healthy and the wealthy, and another, lesser system for everyone else”.

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Posted by Teri Perticone

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