As Congressional Republicans retreated to West Virginia to discuss their plans for 2018, they were greeted by protesters who are furious about the GOP’s ongoing war on health care. Hundreds of protesters greeted Vice President Pence at the airport, lined up along the President’s motorcade route, and made sure every Member of Congress in attendance knew just how furious voters are about their party’s health care sabotage:
The protesters made clear just how devastating the GOP’s health care attacks would be to West Virginia:
“An issue on the minds — and signs — of many of the protesters was health care. Hanno Kirk, 78, of Lewisburg, said his main concern as a health care provider is the 230,000 people in West Virginia who are in danger of losing health insurance if the GOP succeeds in dismantling the Affordable Care Act. ‘It’s totally misguided to attempt to do away with the ACA simply because it’s called ‘Obamacare,’ Kirk said, noting he used to be a ‘liberal Republican in Washington, D.C., back when there was such a thing as a liberal Republican.’ Stephen Josephine Fritsch of Harrisburg, Pa., the daughter of a combat veteran, said it appears the values her father fought for are slipping away. ‘This is America,’ she said. ‘It should be we the America, not me the America.’ Fritsch expressed concern about the state of U.S. health care under GOP leadership.”
“‘Well, we have a lot of issues in West Virginia,’ said psychotherapist and protester Hanno Kirk. ‘As a healthcare provider, I am acutely aware how many of my patients are reliant on Medicaid and Medicare and CHIPS. And if those two are eliminated, as there is a threat to that, we would have a huge number of uninsured people.’” [WVVA, 1/31]
Protesters gathered at Senator Moore-Capito’s office ahead of Congressional Republicans’ arrival:
Protesters are hitting the streets in Charleston, a day ahead of the GOP retreat at The Greenbrier, to voice their concerns about cuts to health care and Medicaid. A rally Wednesday evening included people from all over the eastern U.S. gathering in Charleston, including one woman from as far away as Vermont. It is a test run for a bigger demonstration on Thursday in Greenbrier County. By the end of the night Wednesday, the group is expecting about 500 advocates in town — standing together against Medicaid and health care cuts. [WSAZ, 1/31]
They met Vice President Pence at the Charleston airport:
“‘We’re just ready for that change,’ Debbie Naeter says. She’s right outside the Greenbrier Valley Airport gates with protestors prepared to welcome Vice President Pence with their concerns. ‘It’s health care, and fracking, and equality, and being nice again,’ she says.” [WDBJ, 1/31]
Engaged activists traveled from all over the country to make their voices heard:
“Protesters came from all over the United States. WDBJ7’s Sara Machi spoke with protesters from West Virginia, New York City, Charlotte, and Arkansas. Many protesters present Thursday said they have decided to protest because of issues important to them. These issues include immigration, healthcare, the recent tax bill, clean water, and other issues.” [WDBJ, 2/1]
As Paul Ryan raised the specter of “entitlement reform” inside, protesters at the gates of the five-star resort raised awareness about the GOP’s proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid:
“President Donald Trump’s address to Republican congressmen at The Greenbrier resort in southern West Virginia has drawn several hundred protesters with signs and chants criticizing him and calling for living wages, protecting Medicaid and Medicare, defending immigrants and decrying hate speech.” [AP, 2/1]
The bottom line from protesters: Enough is enough. It’s time to stop the Republican war on our care.
“While President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence plan to attend a GOP congressional retreat in West Virginia, some health care advocates plan to attend rallies to protest Medicaid and health care cuts… Organizers said in a news release that West Virginia health care advocates would join more than 500 people gathering to protest and send a message ‘that any cuts to health care — the issue expected to top the GOP’s agenda — will be met with a fierce nationwide fight.’” [WCHS, 1/31]
Lest anyone be confused, they made clear what the protests were really about:
“Sammi Brown, the federal campaigns director for Our Children, Our Future, said this started after activists in Greenbrier County reached out to individual groups, and word of the action reached organizations in West Virginia and other states shortly afterward. ‘It is folks all along the East Coast that are standing in solidarity with West Virginia. We are expecting upwards of 600 people tomorrow to march with us,’ she said. Brown said the protest was not about Trump but rather the agenda of what she called ‘attacking health care.’” [West Virginia Metro News, 1/31]
And Vice President Pence found one special health care protester – West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. After Pence chided him for not voting for the GOP tax scam, which kicked millions of Americans off of their coverage, Manchin hit back:
As President Trump, Vice President Pence and GOP Members of Congress were shown upon their arrival in West Virginia, Americans, from local organizers to United States senators are furious about their repeal and sabotage memo. They’re furious over their weakening of the Affordable Care Act; they’re furious over their attempts to gut Medicare and Medicaid; and they’re furious over their unnecessary attacks on America’s health care system. And if they don’t stop, it’s only going to get worse.
Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end their war on health care.