Local Health Care Advocates Join Protect Our Care to Call for an End to GOP Attacks on West Virginians’ Health Care

Talley Sergent speaks in front of Care Force One in Charleston.

WEST VIRGINIA – Today, Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour arrived in West Virginia to call attention to the Republicans ongoing war on health care care. Joined by Delegates Scott Brewer, Linda Longstreth, and Barbara Fleischauer; Talley Sergent; Reverend Janice Hill; and cancer survivor Laura Packard, events in Charleston, Morgantown, and Parkersburg highlighted the actions Republicans are taking to harm West Virginians’ care and called on Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to work instead to protect our care.

“I’m alive because of the Affordable Care Act,” said Packard. “I’m a stage four cancer survivor and I’m on this tour to defend our attacks against the GOP. President Trump may have blocked me on Twitter, but he can’t stop me and the American people from fighting to protect our care.”

Similar themes were echoed by Delegate Brewer and Sergent, who highlighted Attorney General Morrisey’s lawsuit and Representative Alex Mooney’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, each of which would take away West Virginians’ care.

“The impact of this lawsuit and the actions of Congress are real,” said Sergent, who spoke of the more than 700,000 West Virginians who could lose their care if the lawsuit signed onto by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey were to be successful. “Lives are on the line.”

“Too often we’ve watched as Washington politicians have voted to take health care away from millions,” said Delegate Brewer. “Now is the time for D.C. politicians to hear our voices. Let them hear that we’re not gonna take this anymore.”

Delegate Brewer and Sergent were joined by Doris Selko of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, who spoke of the difficulties West Virginians had in obtaining care before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, and Gary Zuckett of West Virginia Citizen Action Group, who praised Senator Joe Manchin for his consistent leadership on the issue of health care.

Before heading to the State Capitol, Care Force one was in Morgantown with Delegates Linda Longstreth and Barbara Fleischauer and local health care advocates.

Delegate Barbara Fleischauer speaks in front of Care Force One in Morgantown.

“We have 168,000 people on the Affordable Care Act, most of them in the southern part of the state,” said Delegate Longstreth. “Why do we have to argue about people being able to have health care for themselves and their families?”

“We have 1.2 million people in West Virginians. 738,000 of them live with a pre-existing condition,” added Delegate Fleischauer. “25,000 West Virginians have gotten care for their addiction through Medicaid. We don’t want to kick these people into the cold.”

Delegates Longstreth and Fleischauer were joined in Morgantown by Kelly Allen, a former health care navigator who spoke about being diagnosed with a pre-existing condition while attending West Virginia University, and the hard-working West Virginians she has seen gain insurance under the ACA.

Earlier in the day, another group of local health care advocates made their voices known in Parkersburg.

Reverend Janice Hill speaks in front of Care Force One in Parkersburg.

“I’m a pastor, I care desperately for the people of my congregation and the people of West Virginia,” said Reverend Janice Hill. “How can anyone in heaven’s name think it’s okay to deny health care to people who need it? West Virginia is especially susceptible to not having health care – how can both of our senators not be for it?”

Her sentiments were echoed by medical provider Simon Hargus, who noted that access to health care was necessary to tackle the opioid crisis; nurse Kim Cramer, who emphasized the importance of protections for West Virginians with pre-existing conditions; and Julie Schleier, who was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease which costs $11,000 per month to treat.

At today’s events, West Virginia residents, health care advocates, elected officials and members of Protect Our Care detailed the numbers ways in which Republicans have attacked health care, and how these actions have cut coverage and increased costs for West Virginians. Because of the Republican repeal-and-sabotage agenda:

  • West Virginians will see their premiums rise by an average of 14.85 percent next year. It’s expected that 40 year old West Virginians would face paying an extra $1,390 for marketplace coverage in 2019 because of sabotage of the ACA.
  • West Virginia expanded Medicaid under the ACA and the more than 225,000 West Virginians who have gained coverage because of this program would find their care at risk if the law were repealed.
  • 29,674 West Virginians who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if a judge sides with West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, President Trump and the GOP in their lawsuit; and protections for 738,000 West Virginians, including more than 257,000 in WV-02 living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars have been cut from Medicare.
  • Dozens of hospitals in rural areas have closed.
  • Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act who has vowed to try to repeal the law.  Although he claims to support protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Morrisey was one of the first state attorneys general to join lawsuit that would roll back that coverage and eliminate the protections for pre-existing conditions that exist in the ACA. Morrisey’s participation in the suit puts the health of the 737,900 West Virginians living with a pre-existing condition at risk and would take us back to the days when insurers routinely denied coverage or charged unaffordable premiums to people with pre-existing conditions, including cancer, asthma and hypertension.
  • Representatives Alex Mooney and David McKinley voted for and passed a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing condition; voted for a budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone. Mooney and McKinley also voted for a tax scam that doubled as a sneaky repeal of the Affordable Care Act  by kicking 13 million people off of their insurance and raising premiums by double digits for millions more.

Tomorrow, “Care Force One” will head to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Protect Our Care will be joined by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. For more information, please visit protectourcarebustour.com.