Residents from around the state gathered outside the offices of both Idaho Senator’s Mike Crapo and Jim Risch Wednesday and Thursday. They demonstrated in opposition to the new Senate healthcare bill, called the American Health Care Act.
The bill is similar to the one passed by the House last month, with only a few modifications. Protester Laurie Burelle is concerned with the bill’s potential impact on women’s health.
"I have to say I’m frankly sick and tired of our politicians politicizing women’s health. We need Planned Parenthood. We need women’s healthcare. We need 10 essential benefits including maternity care, mental health care," Burelle says. "I mean, these are the things that we need to live in this country and this world and be productive and good citizens."
The new draft of the bill from the Senate maintains the repeal of the Affordable Care Act as well as severe cuts to Medicaid. It also preserves tax breaks for the wealthy. However, an initial analysis finds the new version offers a bit more financial assistance to low income people than the previous version.
Idaho Senators Crapo and Risch have indicated support for repealing the Affordable Care Act in the past. Senator Risch says it is premature to comment on the bill as he needs time to look it over. Senator Crapo released a statement calling the new bill a "promising step toward maintaining affordable care." Protester Brett Karcher is hopeful they’ll both vote no.
"We’re very concerned. Look, Risch and Crapo, I don’t want to paint them with the same brush, because Crapo is far better than Risch. But, they both vote the party line 95 times out of 100 and I really hope they don’t vote for this because it’s going to hurt the very constituents and the voters that they depend on to stay in office," Karcher said.
A concern many are raising over the newly proposed legislation is the secretive nature in which it was created. The bill was written by a handful of GOP senators behind closed doors. It was publicly released Thursday morning for review by other senators. This was a primary concern for demonstrator Rod Couch.
"We just protest the lack of transparency. We believe the American people should have a chance to read this in full," Couch says. "A week doesn’t give most working Americans time to read this and digest it and comment on it and decide on how they feel about it."
A score from the Congressional Budget Office for the new health care proposal is expected in the coming days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is adamant a vote on the American Health Care Act will take place before a scheduled 4th of July recess.
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