100+ rally against health care repeal

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - More than 100 Memphians came together to protest the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

A vote on Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Senate Republican bill, is expected to come after July 4, as announced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

"This isn't about politics. This is about healthcare for people who can't afford to be cut off the health care rolls," Vice-President of The Cooper Coalition Virgie Banks said.

The Cooper Coalition organized the rally, along with other grassroots groups at the IBEW Union Hall on Madison Avenue in Midtown.

Citizens were joined by doctors - all taking a stand against the senate's plan.

"I believe that health care is a basic right," Dr. Allison Stiles, Memphis pediatrician, said.

Meanwhile, executives at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare said they are having daily conversations with Tennessee lawmakers and their staffs about what changes to healthcare would mean for the state and more specifically, Memphis.

"It is safe to call it draconian and right now, catastrophic," Chief of Staff Cato Johnson said.

Under the Senate plan, insurers could offer less comprehensive policies and cut pre-existing condition coverage, if states give permission.

Johnson said deep Medicaid cuts would impact Memphis because more of our citizens live in poverty.

Medicaid spending could be slashed by 26 percent.

"Individuals do not stop coming to hospitals because of what's happening in Washington," Johnson said. "People do not stop getting sick because of what's happening in Washington."

Johnson said 70 percent of patients at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital are covered by Medicaid programs. Even now, in the post-Obamacare years, 17 percent of Shelby County residents still don't have insurance.

"These are major issues, and we are wrestling with now, public policy officials are wrestling with now, is health care a right or a privilege," Johnson said.

Tennessee senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have not held any town hall meetings to hear from Tennesseans on health care, which spawned Wednesday's rally.

Parties in attendance included: Copper Coalition, Kevin Bradshaw – CBTU, Indivisible Memphis, Planned Parenthood, Memphis Center for Independent Living, MidSouth ADAPT, Dr. Art Sutherland – Physicians for a National Health Program, Democratic Women of Shelby County, Germantown Democratic Club, Tennessee Democratic Party, Tennessee Democratic Chairs Association, Tennessee Young Democrats, and Dr. Coby Smith.

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