By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
A strip along North Main Street was turned into a makeshift “cemetery” Thursday as supporters of the Affordable Care Act laid on the ground and held up cardboard tombstones.
“Last Thursday, the House passed a bill that will have this effect on people,” said Sara Jobin, one of the organizers of the “die-in.”
One “tombstone” read “Beloved daughter chose college over health care.” Another stated, “Killed by heartless lies.” And another, “RIP Democracy.”
The protest was held in front of the office of U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green. Latta was not present and the office closed shortly after the “die-in” began.
Molly Tomaszewski, of Northwood, held signs protesting the projections that 24 million Americans will lose coverage under the American Health Care Act passed by the House GOP members, including Latta. She believes the answer is a single payer system.
“Universal health care is not a partisan issue. It’s a life issue,” she said. “We need health care.”
Tomaszewski said her husband has good health insurance through his job. But she has 27 pre-existing conditions as listed in the new GOP plan. Without insurance, her prescriptions would cost $5,000 a month. “They could put lifetime caps on,” she said, worrying about how she would then afford her medications.
Of the 30 people gathered for the protest, the majority were women.
Anesa Miller, of Bowling Green, said her husband died last month after a long illness. She was insured through him, and is two years away from qualifying from Medicare. So she may have to pay six times as much for coverage through Cobra.
Miller is a cancer survivor, and currently needs foot surgery. But that will probably have to wait.
She also talked about the difficulty her husband had finding doctors who would accept his insurance when the couple moved back to Ohio from Washington state.
“I just think the system we have is insane,” Miller said.
Julie Dougherty, from Archbold, has good insurance now – but she is uncertain of the future.
“I have a desire that everybody in society should have basic health care,” she said. “I have a pre-existing condition, so I’m concerned about how this will shake out.”
Dougherty sees good health insurance as a characteristic of developed countries – like good roads and good schools.
Kendal Kissinger, of Weston, shared a similar view.
“I think health care is a human right,” she said. “I’ve known people who have gone bankrupt who have insurance. And I’ve known people who have died who don’t have insurance.”
It makes no sense that the U.S. can’t provide health insurance like all the other wealthy nations in the world, Kissinger said.
Julian de Leon Guerrero, of Bowling Green, who is covered by his parents’ health care under the Affordable Care Act, said the overall population is better off under the ACA.
“I’m here because I think health care run by the government is generally more efficient” and less profit driven, he said.
Jesse and Diane Alvarez, of Wayne, stood together along the street holding their signs.
“It’s a no-care bill,” Diane Alvarez said of the GOP plan. “Trump promised he was going to take Obamacare and make it better. But he’s screwing the American people.” The government is intended to serve “we the people, not they the wealthy.”
Jesse Alvarez lost his insurance when the factory he worked at closed. His wife went without insurance for three years before the ACA went into effect.
“We had to make a decision. Do we want to eat,” or buy insurance costing $1,200 a month, Diane Alvarez said.
Jesse Alvarez is now on Medicare. “As long as they don’t start messing with that,” he will be fine. But their son has multiple disabilities, is served by Wood Lane, and gets Medicaid. “That’s kind of scary,” Jesse said about the thought of losing their son’s coverage.
Yaohan Chen, of Bowling Green, questioned how the Republicans can look at last week’s legislative passage as a victory.
“I’m here because I think it’s really irresponsible that the House passed the ACHA over our objections and the medical associations’ objections,” Chen said. “I think the Republicans shouldn’t consider this a victory when they are taking people’s health care away.”
Jobin said the “die-in” was held in front of Latta’s office to try to get the congressman’s attention. Some of the protesters held signs asking “Where’s Bob?” since he has refused to meet face-to-face with constituents.
“He needs to listen to his constituents and needs to have the courage to show up and take responsibility for his actions,” Jobin said.