Hundreds from across Michigan rally in front of Rep. Fred Upton’s St. Joseph office

West Michigan Representative feels heat for reversal on health care vote

Outraged by house passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), hundreds of Michigan residents flooded into the town of St. Joseph to show their displeasure with Rep. Fred Upton for his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and radically restructure Medicaid. After a brief rally downtown, the crowd marched to his district office where  constituents of  Michigan’s 6th district delivered pink slips for the  Representative to his staff.

Upton, after initially opposing the bill, reversed his position and crafted an amendment that helped secure votes for passage of the AHCA, despite significant opposition from experts, advocates, constituents, and health groups like the the AARP, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Hospital Association and the March of Dimes.  

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After putting their congressman on notice, residents like Danee Kaplin told how this proposal would affect their families. “The Upton amendment is just a band-aid on a bullet wound.” Kaplin said outside his office. “Millions of people like me and my kids would would be priced out of health care because of his vote.” Kaplin, a nurse practitioner and her children would all be considered to have pre-existing conditions under the bill. “If he’s not worried about my family, he should start to worry about his job.”

Under the Republican bill, Upton’s constituents would pay $1,519 more per year on average In out-of-pocket costs for coverage in Michigan’s health insurance marketplace, while the wealthiest 1% of people in Michigan would receive an average tax break of $13,270 a year under the bill. People over 50 and people with pre-existing conditions could be charged even more.

But even if the AHCA did cover pre-existing conditions, it still suffers from all the problems that sent the first version of “Trumpcare” down in flames last month. 24 million people are expected to lose their health insurance, Medicaid and Medicare will suffer drastic cuts and billions of dollars in tax cuts will go to the wealthiest 1% of Americans.

Domonique “Diamond” Ray will not likely be one of those to benefit from the tax cuts. She and her five children depend on Medicaid. “Upton says the AHCA will offer greater access to healthcare, but I don’t see it. Without the Medicaid expansion under the ACA, the only way me or my kids could see a doctor would be in the emergency room.”