In a show of escalating resistance to repealing the Affordable Care Act, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW nurses, President Diane Sosne RN, and Tacoma minister Pastor Gregory Christopher joined with workers from across the country to flood Capitol Hill Tuesday to protest efforts to dismantle the ACA and to demand to hear their representatives’ plan to keep millions of American families covered. The group of local activists, faith leaders, nurses and home care workers directly confronted their Senators who are at the forefront of the repeal. These senators include: Toomey (R-PA), Blunt (R-MO), Hatch (R-UT), Heller (R-NV), and Daines (R-MT).
Earlier in the day, as constituents confronted Republican legislators, protests erupted outside of the Senate Finance Committee’s vote to confirm Thomas Price to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Price has been a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act and has written legislation that would repeal most of the sections of Obamacare and shift toward what Republicans call a “market-based” approach.
Holding signs that asked “What’s your plan for us?” protestors disrupted hallways, cafeterias, and member offices, including Sens. Blunt, Hatch, Toomey, Daines, and Heller. Participants demanded to speak to their representatives to tell them the real-life toll a repeal of the law would have on their lives and to hear their plan to keep their families covered. When senators like Toomey refused to meet with their constituents, faith leaders like Father Regis Ryan offered prayer over their offices to ask them to dig deep in their souls and make the right decision.
“Over the past 40 years, I’ve worked to provide access to health care to the poor—and I know that repealing the Affordable Care Act is a matter of life-or-death,” said Father Regis Ryan, the Executive Director of STO-ROX Neighborhood Health Council near Pittsburgh.
“As a pastor, my aim is to reach out to all humans—to feed the hungry, house the homeless, cheer the fallen, and care for the sick. I would hope Sen. Toomey and his colleagues in Congress feel this responsibility to their constituents too.”
The protests culminated in a final show of disruption outside of Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office, where protesters blocked the hallway demanding to hear his plans to keep American families covered. Shouting “What’s the plan for health care? What’s the plan for us?” nearly 50 protesters including SEIU Healthcare 1199NW nurses and President Diane Sosne, RN were arrested and escorted out of the building.
“I see real fear in the faces of my patients when they talk about losing their healthcare coverage and the unknown of what’s next. And as a nurse, I have as much fear as they do,” said Vanessa Patricelli, RN.” We cannot afford to go back to the days when patients delay seeking treatment for a serious condition until it’s too difficult to treat, or in some cases, too late to treat at all.”
Frustration is growing in all corners of the country as plans to dismantle the ACA move forward.
Despite recent polling showing that the majority of Americans overwhelmingly support the Affordable Care Act, plans to repeal the law, which would leave an estimated 30 million people without access to health care—including prescriptions and treatments for chronic conditions.
Without a replacement plan, experts report than at estimated 43,000 people could die annually.
The Medicaid Expansion benefits some of our most vulnerable populations in states across the country. Four out of every 10 Medicaid dollars are spent on care for people with disabilities and one-quarter of the program’s funding is used for seniors.