by Tom Troy
A group of about 45 people gathered at a Toledo Unitarian Church Friday to hear speakers urge defeat of the Republican-backed American Health Care Act pending in the Senate.
U.S. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) called the bill “unconscionable” and displayed the phone number of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) to encourage listeners to contact him and ask him to vote against the bill.
Senator Portman has already declared his opposition to the bill as introduced. However, he has also said he is committed to replacing the Affordable Care Act, which he said, “is not working for many Ohio families and small businesses.”
The hour-long forum was organized by Toledo Area Jobs with Justice and the Interfaith Worker Justice Coalition. It was billed as “Toledo Faith Leaders Support Medicaid.” The speakers were the Rev. Tim Barger of the First Unitarian Church of Toledo, Sister Patricia Schnapp of the Sisters of Mercy, and Sister Nancy Westmeyer of the Tiffin Fransicans.
Sister Nancy told of her experience recovering from cancer when Medicaid accepted her as a client, which allowed her to receive a liver transplant. She said it was a life-saving event that will be denied to others if the bill curtailing Medicaid coverage passes.
“My heart aches for the men and women who will not have the chance that I had,” Sister Nancy said. “If the Senate bill passes, many of them will face death, but they won’t have the miracle I had.”
Sister Patricia, who is a retired English professor at Adrian College, read a statement of opposition to the bill from the national Sisters of Mercy organization. She said the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas are affiliated with the Mercy Health system.
“The Sisters of the Americas are strongly opposed to the U.S. Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act. Access to health care is a fundamental right,” she said. She said the Republican bill aims to cut $800 billion from Medicaid over 10 years while enacting a tax cut for the “super rich.”
The Republican bill has been delayed because Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not been able to get the 50 GOP votes it needs for passage. The bill faces opposition in both directions, with conservative senators complaining that it preserves elements of the Affordable Care Act and centrists, such as Mr. Portman, who object to the bill’s cuts and changes in Medicaid.
Mr. Portman has said he cannot support the current version because the bill could negatively affect Ohio’s ability to fight the opioid epidemic.
Grassroots opponents of the bill have been organizing events to pressure Republican legislators.
The group Indivisibles Toledo is planning a vigil at 7 p.m. Saturday outside the Ronald McDonald House near ProMedica Toledo Hospital to focus on how the bill would affect the care of children.
Miss Kaptur said some 80,000 Ohioans working in health care will lose their jobs if the bill passes.
“Rural hospitals will close. Ohioans will lose their jobs,” Miss Kaptur said.
She also said “Trumpcare” will force people to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for medical procedures.
“When Medicaid is cut, there are going to be losers, but nobody wants to talk about that. Are we going to go back to poor houses? I’m so mad at the Republicans for doing this to the American people,” Miss Kaptur said.
In addition to holding up a sign with Senator Portman’s office number, she suggested people hold meetings and invite Senator Portman to attend.
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