Two dozen people – most of them women, some crying, some foot-stomping, many holding signs – crowded into Congressman Steve Knight’s Santa Clarita office Tuesday protesting the plan, they said, to repeal Obamacare without having a functional alternative plan in place.
Protesters marched into Knight’s office on Carl Boyer Drive where they shared stories of physical suffering – stories which mushroomed into horror stories of bankruptcy and debt – before the introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“The ACA has saved people’s lives,” Nanette A. Meister told two Knight staffers who listened to the protesters’ stories.
Meister, who at one point stomped her foot in making her point, told Knight staffers that before the ACA, she was paying $800 a month for health coverage.
“The ACA got me down to $450 a month,” she said. “And, when you’re retired that’s a big difference.”
Knight was in Washington D.C. when protesters visited his Santa Clarita office.
In response to the group’s actions and concerns, Knight told The Signal: “Rebuilding a health care system that works for Americans and families is an extremely important topic, and we welcome input from all members of the community.
“That is why we will continue hosting tele-town halls, distributing surveys, and holding meetings with constituents,” he said. “We encourage everyone to visit my website to take our health care survey and send us an email about their thoughts and stories.”
On Jan. 13, the US House Representatives took the first step in dismantling Obamacare when they voted 227-198 to come up with draft legislation within two weeks that would repeal the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act. Knight voted in favor of taking those first steps in the dismantling.
The Senate had approved the same measure Jan. 12.
Knight voted to repeal Obamacare in February 2015.
Protest organizer Philip Germain asked the Knight staffers: “If you plan on repealing the ACA, then what is your alternate plan?”
Lisa Moulton, District Director at Knight’s local office, advised Germain and the other protesters to go online and read details of the proposed alternative plan to Obamacare called the “Better Way.”
Germain argued that after five years of Republicans complaining about Obamacare they should have a fully fleshed-out and detailed alternative plan in place and not just a 36-page “Better Way” blueprint.
“This is a pretty personal thing,” he told Moulton. “You’re taking away my health care.”
Germain told Knight staffers his ailing father and sister both received the medical attention they deserved and expected under the ACA.
“My father had stage 4 cancer,” he told The Signal. “He was given a year-and-a-half to live, but was able to get the proper treatment with the ACA.”
Barbara Sanders told Moulton and Knight’s District Representative Nicole Vartanian to Knight that many of his constituents work in the film industry as independents with no company health plan coverage.
“We’re already paying $800 a month and it’s going to double if goes back to high-risk (medical assessments),” she said.
Sanders said she was compelled Tuesday to make a personal plea for Knight not to repeal the ACA.
“I can’t just sit at home crying over this,” she said.
Knight spokesman Daniel Outlaw pointed out Tuesday that the process of repealing ACA is a long road.
“Rep. Knight is committed to reaching out to members of the community about their experiences and beliefs about national healthcare policy,” he said in a written statement.
“The reality is that the process is going to take a considerable amount of time, during which a replacement can be considered and passed,” he said.
“In order to avoid disruptions in care Rep. Knight strongly supports a seamless transition between the ACA and the new plan, which will be largely based on the GOP Better Way Health care framework, which you can find here: abetterway.speaker.gov/_assets/pdf/ABetterWay-HealthCare-PolicyPaper.pdf.
“Knight also supports keeping the parts of the Affordable Care Act that he feels are working, such as maintaining protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and allowing young people to remain on their family plan until age 26,” he said.
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