JACKSON Miss. (WJTV) – Dozens of Mississippians rallied in protest of Medicaid cuts through the streets of Downtown Jackson after the proposed Obamacare repeal.
Many Americans are on edge as they await the Republican Party’s promised appeal and replacement of Obamacare. Senate Republicans have extended the suspense by postponing a vote on the legislation.
In retaliation, demonstrators marched along Captiol Street outside of the Pinnacle building Thursday to the federal courthouse to speak with the staff of Senator Roger Wicker. Senator Wicker responded in the following statement:
“My staff in Jackson had a productive and thoughtful meeting about health care with a group of passionate Mississippians. Mississippians can see the byproducts of the current failing system, with health insurance premiums exploding by 116 percent. That is not real reform, and neither is the exit of major insurers from the federal exchanges, leaving only one choice for Mississippians next year. Medicaid is on an unsustainable path, putting at risk those who truly need it. The Senate is trying to replace the unworkable status quo with reforms that actually lead to lower costs and more choices for patients. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation about the draft plan. First, it is still undergoing changes. Second, in its current form, it would represent a historic transfer of power to the states to manage their affairs free from Washington interference. It would continue to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and lower premiums. Rather than cutting funding for Medicaid – which some have falsely asserted – this plan increases the amount of money to the program at a more sustainable rate of growth than it is now. Finally, in states like Mississippi that did not expand Medicaid, thousands will now have the opportunity to receive a refundable tax credit to buy real insurance on the open market. I believe this plan will end up being better for the American people and better for the taxpayer long-term.”
A handful of participants went inside of the Pinnacle building, where they spoke to staff for Senator Thad Cochran. Senator Cochran issued the following statement on the drafter legislation that reads:
“This is a work in progress. I will continue to work with my colleagues to reach an agreement that benefits the nation.”
Many rally participants were disabled like Desmeon Thomas who tells us “I depend on going to the doctor a whole lot. And I’m scared that if medicaid is cut we’ll be at risk of not getting the health care we really need.”
Scott Crawford of Mississippi’s Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities seemed pleased with the outcome of the protest. “They listened to us. We told our stories. We hope they’ll take our concerns into consideration and vote no on this horrible bill.”
Other rally participants we spoke to are concerned because without Medicaid, they will not be able to afford healthcare. Nicki Nichols says “Without medicaid, we wouldn’t have been able to keep our home. We’re just an average Mississippi family.
Nichols’s daughter Bella has type one diabetes and they have no choice but to use medicaid for her daughters medical bills and supplies.
“On my husbands income, if we were expected to pay, or forced to pay, everything that the co-pays would add up to in a month, on our current insurance policy, it would be equal to our mortgage.”
Those who were not directly affected by Medicaid cuts came out to simply be supportive. Baffled by the climate to fight for a daily necessity such as healthcare, Catholic Priest Father Jeremy Tobin profoundly stated:
“Every life is important. Every life is made in the image of God and we cannot just sit back and take this lying down.”
President Trump has said passing the legislation will be “tough,” but Senate Republicans will get close and “may get it over the line.” Senators plan to resume and rectify a healthcare replacement in July.