Democratic Town Hall Cheers Stalling of Repeal-and-Replace
Source: Med Page Today
By Thomas Walsh
Unlike Republican town halls held over the last months, a public meeting with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) in Manhattan on Thursday night was quiet and the topic shifted to healthcare only sparsely.
But Maloney did, of course, offer comments about Congressional efforts to stall Republicans’ plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“We’re five months into the administration and they haven’t been able to repeal and replace healthcare. And that I would say is because of community activism and leadership across this country. It is a phenomenal achievement,” Maloney said.
Maloney said Republicans are “nowhere close to achieving that goal” of rolling back the ACA: “They’re seeing how interrelated our healthcare system is, and their healthcare plan — quite frankly — I don’t see how anyone could get re-elected on it.”
If essential parts of Obamacare don’t survive, pregnant women and the elderly would be among the most adversely affected, Maloney said, charging that plan that would allow states to reinstate pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy, would be “extremely destructive to women,” while older people would have to pay five times more in premiums.
Answering several participants who requested advice on what they could do to stop the proposed healthcare bill after the recess, Maloney suggested they work with her to document and share how individuals would be personally affected by the proposed cuts.
“If you have a story, I got a lot of interns this summer,” Maloney said. “They can film it, we can put it up, we can send it out, tweet it out, we can take it to the floor of Congress, we can take it to the Democratic Caucus. Seeing human faces telling the story gives you more strength to fight. It’s much more compelling than a number.”
Participants also asked about the possibility of a single-payer system and “Medicare-for-all.”
“We should’ve just taken Medicare and just expanded it,” she said. “You already had the administrative office there — the administration to take care of it. It would’ve been more efficient, it would’ve been more cost-effective.”
For Maloney, the problem with healthcare policy was and still is the lack of cooperation across the aisle. But she expressed hope that the growing pressure from anxious constituents will force Republicans to negotiate a deal with the Democrats.
“Eventually, we’ve got to get together because you can’t leave it in limbo like this, where people don’t know where their healthcare is going to come from,” Maloney said. “Does the Affordable Care Act need improvements? Yes, we improve everything. Every year we modernize Social Security or Medicare with some changes. So there are ways you can make it more functional but we need to get together, we need to agree, but I think at one point we’ll get to the table and we’ll get to an agreement.”
The town hall was hosted by NY Indivisible, the New York branch of a national movement that applies the Tea Party’s aggressive tactics against Trump’s agenda. Topics varied widely, and the audience — largely progressive supporters — was asked to write questions on index cards.
They were, for the most part, silent and attentive, occasionally applauding loudly for initiatives like federal funding for the NYC subway system and the fight against a proposed federal gun law that would extend concealed carry permits across state lines.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York State Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, and Susan Learner, executive director of Common Cause New York, also spoke at the event.