SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – Protests continue outside of Congressman Mike Kelly’s Mercer County offices. About a dozen rallied in Sharon Friday evening to send a message of unease about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
For over a month now, they’ve demanded that Kelly reject the Republican plan to replace the ACA, known as the American Health Care Act. Protesters claim the ACA’s repeal will hurt tens of thousands of District 3 residents, particularly senior citizens, and would only benefit those making over $200,000 a year.
That’s why constituents are continuing to rally, just for the opportunity to have an open conversation with Congressman Kelly so they can voice their concerns.
“What we believe we deserve is an in-person town hall meeting. He is our Congressman, we deserve that. He should come here, he should not be a coward,” said organizer Mary Bell.
Some protestors said they received threats in the mail.
“It was a death threat in the mail and it went into great details regarding that but as you see, I’m back out here today. I was out here yesterday. It will not stop me coming down here, it will not change my course. I’m still focused on what we’re doing and that’s going to continue,” Syphrit said.
Protesters are calling for health care reform that guarantees coverage to all Pennsylvanians, especially concerning Medicaid expansion.
“The bill that Mike Kelly is presenting will end that expansion in 2020. That covers people who are getting mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, children, adults,” Bell said. “The governor has said that the state cannot afford to continue the Medicaid expansion. Where are those people gonna go?”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said more people in the state have access to healthcare now because of the ACA.
“Right now, there are over 700,000 Pennsylvanians who have access to healthcare who didn’t have it over two years ago because I expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.”
Two by two, demonstrators entered the Congressman’s Sharon office with handwritten notes in the hope their message and concerns would be heard.
“Since he won’t meet with us, this is all we can do is hand our questions in to him and wait for an answer back,” Diane Syphrit said.
Even still, some worry about what a full repeal of the ACA could do for students with disabilities who rely on the school access billing plan through medical assistance.
“Assistive devices, special teachers, in-school therapies — that’s going to be gone. One hundred forty-three million dollars of in-school funding will be gone if this bill is repealed,” Sueanne Mulvey said.
Kelly released a statement Thursday regarding his view on the ACA’s repeal:
After 18 straight hours of open deliberation, the Ways and Means Committee answered the American people’s call and that of President Trump and officially put the American Health Care Act on the path to becoming law. The end of Obamacare and the start of a better health care system began this morning and will continue until cost-lowering, patient-centered health care for every American is fully achieved. This is news of enormous relief for American workers, families, seniors, those who are sick and vulnerable, and those who give them medical care.
This historic bill represents Phase One of the overall repeal and replace process; Phase Two will be the action that Secretary Price takes at the Health and Human Services Department, and Phase Three will come in the form of future patient-centered legislation that could not be included in the reconciliation process. With the leadership of President Trump, as well as the support of conservative policy champions like Vice President Pence and Secretary Price, my colleagues and I in Congress will fulfill our promise to relieve the nation of Obamacare while avoiding the mistakes of its disastrous creation. Through it all, we will guarantee that this delicate process remains honest, open, and transparent for the American people.”
About a month ago, Kelly’s office put up signs, dissuading people from being in or around his office.
As for the protestors, they’ll continue to hold these rallies until they see a visit from Kelly in District 3 or are granted the opportunity to sit down with him.