‘Kill the bill, don’t kill me:’ Health care protesters descend on Capitol Hill
Over 100 protesters from across the U.S. gathered outside high-profile Republican senators’ offices on Monday to voice their opposition to the GOP’s Senate bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The demonstrators — some of whom are doctors, nurses, health care aides and patients with chronic health conditions — crowded around the offices and refused to leave, prompting the U.S. Capitol Police to physically remove them from the site. Organizers said demonstrators came from 21 U.S. states.
A total of 80 protesters were arrested. No senators were present during the demonstrations.
"We’re not just here representing ourselves. We’re here for women, for children, for indigenous people, for poor people. We’re just trying to get our message across. This is our reality. This is not their reality show," said Nanti Ortiz, a protester from Arizona.
Demonstrators who staged a sit-in inside the office of Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, described the harrowing medical conditions they endured and how benefits from the ACA, also known as Obamacare, helped them access life-saving treatments.
Demonstrators sit on the ground and chant outside the offices of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz while protesting against health care reform legislation in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on July 10, 2017, Washington.
Sasha, a 32-year-old woman from Ohio, recalled the story of her battle with breast cancer, which included six rounds of chemotherapy, 28 radiation treatments and a bilateral mastectomy.
“My care was paid for by an insurance company. Without the protections of ACA, I would not have access to that care because I have a pre-existing condition,” she said, while participating in the sit-in in Portman’s office.
Peter, from Cleveland, detailed the $90,000 bill he received from emergency surgery and said “Senator Portman, do the right thing. Kill the bill. Don’t kill me.”
Others within Portman’s office made desperate pleas over cuts to Medicaid.
The Senate GOP bill to repeal and replace the ACA includes cuts to Medicaid’s projected budget over the next 10 years by a combined $772 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That would decrease the amount projected to be spent federally on Medicaid during that time to about $4.2 trillion.
The bill would also take away health insurance coverage from 22 million Americans, and is estimated to create $541 billion in tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.
Housing Works, Center for Popular Democracy and their affiliates including People’s Action, Rights & Democracy Vermont and Arizona-based LUCHA took responsibility for collaborating with a nationwide network of activists to organize today’s protests.
“Senators should go on notice: if you pass a bill that repeals Obamacare and takes health care from millions of people, we will make sure you lose your job," Jennifer Epps-Addison, Co-Executive Director and Network President for Center for Popular Democracy said in a statement.
Senators heard an earful from their constituents during town hall meetings across the country last week as one additional senator — the usually reliably conservative John Hoeven of North Dakota — came out against the bill during the recess. This increased the count of senators opposed to the bill to 10, and has sparked concerns that Republicans may have to work with the Democrats on “less comprehensive legislation to reassure the insurance industry,” according to Sen. Mitch McConnell.
The bill only requires two senators to vote against it to fail.
ABC News’ Ali Rogin contributed to this report.