Anxious and angry constituents continue to show up at Republicans’ town hall meetings with concerns over the future of health care coverage, but lawmakers don’t have concrete answers to provide.
In the politest possible way, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked his constituents to keep their voices down. … It was Grassley’s second town hall of the day, the umpteenth of a political career that began with a 1958 race for state legislature. He wrote down each question as it was spoken to him. … And he faced round after round of questions on the Affordable Care Act, from people who sometimes choked up as they described their specific, positive interactions with the law. After one woman emotionally described how her family would have been “destroyed” had the ACA’s subsidies not defrayed the cost of her husband’s illness, Grassley assured her that the law would not simply be repealed.
The House GOP approach – loosely spelled out in a thin booklet of talking points — would preserve a number of features of the existing Obamacare law, including preventing insurers from discriminating against applicants with pre-existing medical problems and allowing children to remain on their parents’ private health care plans until they turn 26. But the disparate talking points lack a coherent framework. And critics say they raise more questions than they answer.
A combative crowd repeatedly challenged Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton on Wednesday in the latest of a series of highly contentious Republican town halls. During the event, protesters in a packed auditorium at Springdale High School frequently stood and chanted denunciations of the senator’s support of the Trump administration and the GOP’s ongoing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
For the first few minutes of Republican U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance’s town hall meeting Wednesday evening, it almost looked like he had won over a passionate anti-Trump crowd of nearly 1,000. Lance, an eight-year incumbent, answered a question about repeal of the Affordable Care Act by saying he supports “repairing” the law and keeping some of its most popular provisions, including protections for pre-existing conditions, banning lifetime caps on coverage and allowing young people to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26. The crowd applauded. Then things changed.
Boisterous town hall meetings have sent Republican lawmakers looking for cover in their home districts — with some representatives opting not to hold public meetings at all. On Tuesday, a group of Miami voters packed the waiting room at Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s office to demand a town hall meeting to talk health care.
California protesters plan on Thursday to bring their criticisms of Republican policies on health and immigration directly to their representatives’ doorsteps. Health advocates, union members and liberal activists have organized evening candlelight vigils in front of the homes of seven congressional Republicans throughout the state, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. An eighth demonstration will be held at a district office.
A small group of Case Western Reserve University medical students rallied this afternoon outside the Cleveland office of Sen. Rob Portman to speak out against repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan. The rally, outside Portman’s E. 9th Street office, is part of a “nationwide day of action” coordinated by Protect our Patients, a grassroots movement of about 4,700 medical students who oppose the repeal of the ACA, or Obamacare, and instead prefer that lawmakers work to improve the act.