Photo from the Facebook page for one of today’s protests at the county courthouse.

This morning, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved a bill that would repeal key portions of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and install a Republican health care law called the American Health Care Act, which some are calling TrumpCare.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where passage is by no means a foregone conclusion. But news agencies are characterizing the bill’s passage in the House as “a major Trump victory.

Our own representative in the House, Jared Huffman, voted against the bill, which, in a press release, he called “a disaster for the availability and quality of health insurance for my constituents and for our neighbors and families all across the country.”

Local organizers have arranged a last-minute protest against the AHCA starting at 1 p.m. on the steps of the Humboldt County courthouse. 

And that’s not the only Trump protest scheduled today. At 5 p.m., another gathering will be held at the courthouse to protest the “Religious Liberty” executive order Trump signed today, allowing churches more leeway to openly advocate for political causes and candidates and exempting religious groups from providing birth control to employees and staff, as required by Obamacare.

According to the BBC, an earlier draft of the order “allowed religious organizations and private corporations to deny services to any individual based on ‘sincere religious beliefs.’” 

Organizers of this evening’s rally declared, “Essentially, any person can discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, as long as they can scapegoat their Religious Beliefs to justify their own bigotry.”

Here’s the release from Huffman’s office:

Washington, D.C.- Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today voted against H.R. 1628, the TrumpCare bill. The bill passed the House of Representatives 217-213 with only Republican votes.

“The narrow, party-line passage of TrumpCare today in the House is a disaster for the availability and quality of health insurance for my constituents and for our neighbors and families all across the country,” said Rep. Huffman.  “TrumpCare will take away health coverage from 24 million Americans, gut coverage for mental health and other essential benefits, increase premiums 25-29% on average in each of the next two years, threaten funding for special education services in schools, impose an age tax on seniors, and it will once again allow discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes.”

“At its core, TrumpCare is a massive tax break for the wealthiest of Americans, with the Republican Congress playing the role of a ‘reverse Robin Hood’: robbing health care from millions of Americans in order to hand out $600 billion in tax breaks to our country’s richest people and largest corporations. The Trumps, Kushners, and Kochs do not need this assistance from Congress. You know who does? The families across my district – and across the country – who rely on Medicaid, and on the health insurance that they purchase, to keep their families healthy and to recover from health crises.

“Want proof that Republicans know this is a bad deal for the American people? Look no further than the fact that they drafted it to exempt themselves from TrumpCare’s lost protections, and that they will very likely still be protected from the consequences even when their own states decide to eliminate protections. 

“While Trumpcare’s passage in the House today is a hard loss, there is a long road ahead before this becomes law. We have our work cut out for us, and we will need to keep up the impressive level of engagement that made it so difficult for President Trump and Congressional Republicans to even have this vote today.” 

Rep. Huffman slammed TrumpCare for its dangerous consequences that would harm children, families, and seniors, including:

  • Higher Costs:  Trumpcare would force families to pay higher premiums and deductibles, increasing out-of-pocket costs.  On average, Trumpcare would increase out-of-pocket health costs (including premiums, deductibles, and other copays) for a Marketplace enrollee by $3,174 in 2020, when the new program would go into effect.  Individuals with incomes below 250 percent of poverty would see their costs increase by $4,815.
  • Less Coverage:  According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Trumpcare would result in 24 million Americans losing their health care coverage over the next 10 years.  Specifically, CBO estimates that, if the GOP bill were enacted this year, 14 million Americans would lose their coverage by 2018, 21 million would lose their coverage by 2020, and 24 million would lose their coverage by 2026. 
  • A Devastating Age Tax:  TrumpCare forces Americans aged 50-64 to pay an “age tax” - to pay premiums five times higher than what others pay for health coverage, no matter how healthy they are. 
  • Stealing from Medicare:  Trumpcare steals $175 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund, shortening the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by three years.  Trumpcare also ransacks funds that seniors depend on to get the long-term care they need.
  • MacArthur Amendment:  The MacArthur Amendment completely guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to waive Essential Health Benefits and the community rating rules, which prevent insurers from charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums based on their health status.  This will make it all but impossible for millions of Americans fighting illness to afford the coverage they desperately need.
  • Upton Amendment:  All independent experts have said that the $8 billion in the Upton amendment to help people with pre-existing conditions is laughably inadequate.
    The Republican health care bill was opposed by leading health groups including the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, Children’s Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, AARP, Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, Catholic Health Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Lung Association, March of Dimes, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, American College of Physicians, and America’s Essential Hospitals.