Democrat super PAC partners with local activists to protest health care age tax

Claudia Estrada Powell of Planned Parenthood LA addresses the media as protesters gather in front of a truck with a digital billboard near Representative Steve Knight's Santa Clarita offices on Monday, August 14, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

About 40 protestors marched behind a moving billboard along the perimeter of the parking lot of Congressman Steve Knight’s (R-Palmdale) Santa Clarita office on Monday morning.

The billboard featured a picture of a birthday cake with candles marking a 50th birthday and read “For your birthday, Steve Knight got you a new age tax,” referencing the higher premiums for those over 50 through the proposed American Health Care Act, the bill Knight voted in favor of in May.

Through an effort by House Majority PAC, a political action committee that aims to get Democrats back as the majority in Congress, 25th Congressional District activists showed their support for the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Planned Parenthood.

“Activists across the district are fired up to hold Congressman Knight’s feet to the fire for his disastrous healthcare vote,” House Majority PAC Executive Director Charlie Kelly said in a statement. “HMP decided to kick off our two-day tour of Southern California here in Santa Clarita and work with local activists because we believe CA-25 deserves a representative who will stand up for their interests.”

Using this creative means of protesting with the billboard campaign will continue the several month-long conversation about health care, Kelley told The Signal.

“We have seen such a surge in participation this cycle,” Kelley said. “It is more important than ever to partner with our progressive allies.”

Though the AHCA failed in the Senate, several protesters said they wanted to remind Knight that they would not forget his vote in anticipation of future health care bills.

The protest at Knight’s office was the first of five this week organized by the PAC, who also planned to have their mobile billboard confront Congress members Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), Mimi Walters (R-Irvine), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Darrell Issa (R-Vista).

Protesters walk alongside a truck with an embedded digital billboard that they announced on Monday, August 14, 2017, in front of Representative Steve Knight’s Santa Clarita offices. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

CA25 United for Progress’ Chair Philip Germain, who coordinated the event locally, iterated that health care is a right, not a privilege.

“People over 50 should not have to pay five times as much merely because of their age,” Germain said. “Congress members should vote with their conscience, not their party.”

Speaking from a doctor’s perspective on health care, Pamela Dyne, M.D. with UCLA Medical Center said she has witnessed an improvement for patients since the Affordable Care Act was passed and said repealing it would be harmful.

“The Affordable Care Act happened and really rescued people from a mountain of debt,” Dyne said. “We cannot go back.”

Health care reform will not be an easy fix, Dyne said, and will require lawmakers to “roll up their sleeves” to find a viable solution.

Americans deserve health care services and the vote in favor of the Republican health care bill puts those services at risk, said Planned Parenthood Los Angeles Senior Public Affairs Specialist Claudia Estrada Powell.

“We want to make sure Steve Knight is held accountable for those services,” Powell said.

Valencia resident and Democratic Alliance for Action member of six years Malcom Blue said he feels as if he is speaking out against Steve Knight every day.

In addition to attending protests, Blue said he calls the congressman’s office to show his disagreement with Knight’s views about health care, the environment and the allotted space at his town hall meetings.

“I just don’t like Steve Knight’s opinion or attitude with regard to the Affordable Care Act,” Blue said.

The local Democrat said he has been paying into his social security since he was 17 years old and is concerned what changes to health care might do to the funds he has accumulated.

Additionally, representatives from Santa Clarita Valley Young Democrats, WIN to Lead, Service Employees International Union and Simi Valley Democratic Club participated.

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