By NATALIE MILLER
Americans are divided in their responses to the House’s May 4 decision to pass the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA). In Virginia, some view this initial passage as a victory, and a step towards potential lower health insurance costs. Some are holding on to hope that the bill will not pass in the Senate, for fear citizens could lose necessary healthcare coverage.
Others still are waiting for more information before reacting to this beginning stage in the passage process.
Hanover’s congressman Rob Wittman (R-1) voted in support of the proposed AHCA May 4, revealing his decision the day of the vote.
Many Hanover residents supported Wittman’s decision to back the AHCA May 4. Much of the county is vocal in their support of repealing the ACA, often in favor of the nation using a single-payer healthcare system.
A group of Hanover residents braved the rain May 4 to protest Wittman’s support of the repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
Repealing and replacing the ACA had been a highly advertised promise of President Donald Trump during his campaign, and a goal of many politicians since former President Barack Obama left office.
A first attempt to repeal the ACA in March failed when House Republicans could not drum up enough votes to pass the legislation.
Mechanicsville resident Deborah Dean held her sign reading “Healthcare is not a privilege, it is a right” outside of Wittman’s office Thursday. Dean, who worked as a nurse for 25 years and now teaches nursing, said members of congress are “going backwards” by supporting this legislation.
“I have seen people die from lack of health care,” Dean said.
Many opponents of the proposed AHCA set to go before the Senate say that they are concerned with the amount of medical issues that could qualify as preexisting conditions under the new bill.
“Almost everyone has a preexisting condition,” Jo Ann Widner, a Mechanicsville resident said.
Widner has been nurse for over 30 years, and herself has arthritis. Widner said she fears that if the ACA is replaced she will not be able to afford her medications.
“It isn’t so much a health care bill as a tax bill, and it’s shifting money from the neediest who need money for health care to very wealthy people in the hopes of a trickle down to the economy,” Widner said.
“Well, I’ve seen this before, I’ve been around a while and trickle-down economics doesn’t work,” Widner continued.
Many who protested outside of Wittman’s office had advocated for months for the congressman to vote against repealing and replacing the ACA. In March, Wittman revealed to news sources that he opposed the original proposed AHCA bill.
“I think we were all thrown off by his undecided vote for so long,” Hanover resident Colleen Berry said.
Berry has breast cancer, and said she travels out of state for cancer treatment. Without access to proper health care, Berry said she could not afford these treatments.
“We want to make sure that everybody knows what’s in this bill because it crosses party lines,” Berry said.
“We need to really make this a nonpartisan issue and [Hanover residents] need to know how he voted and how this affects us,” Berry continued.
About 30 residents held another protest outside of Wittman’s Mechanicsville office Saturday, May 6. A group in Williamsburg, which is also part of Wittman’s 1st District, organized vigils to be held outside of Wittman’s offices this week.
Wittman’s office did not have further remarks by press time.