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Healthcare advocates keep up the heat on McCarthy with protest

Ginny Schwingel from Santa Cruz is one of hundreds of people marching from Yokuts Park in Bakersfield to Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s office to protest the congressman’s views on access to healthcare.
Ginny Schwingel from Santa Cruz is one of hundreds of people marching from Yokuts Park in Bakersfield to Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s office to protest the congressman’s views on access to healthcare. The Californian

Hundreds of people from across California gathered in Bakersfield Friday — many arriving on buses — to express concerns to Congressman Kevin McCarthy about their future access to healthcare under a new presidential administration.

People from Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento, Kingsburg, Riverside, San Francisco, Los Angeles and more first met up at Yokuts Park then marched to the House majority leader's office hoping to relay one message: It's time to "protect, improve and expand" programs like Medicare and Medicaid, not cut them.

“I think it’s important our congressional representatives represent the interests of the community — the entire community,” said Emilio Huerta, a Bakersfield attorney who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, last November.

It was the second such demonstration here in two weeks. Last week, a state Senate committee hearing was held in Bakersfield where lawmakers, healthcare officials and patients decried any repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement that covers all.

McCarthy's office responded Friday by referring The Californian to an opinion piece he released Jan. 19 saying the number of people insured under the ACA means little “when the quality of the insurance is so dismal.”

President Donald Trump has vowed to replace what's also referred to as Obamacare with an insurance system that fixes current problems and extends access to everybody. He has pledged to leave entitlements like Medicare alone, but House GOP leaders have expressed the need to overhaul the program.

Organizers of Friday's event said 51 percent of McCarthy’s constituents rely on Medicare and Medicaid, and they're worried about the possibility of being left without healthcare.

“He’s our congressman, and we are his constituents, and we are telling him quite clearly we are not satisfied with him attacking Medicare — with him taking the Affordable Care Act away without the proper replacement," said Sandy Reding, a nurse at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. “Here’s our replacement: Expand it. Improve it. Everybody in. Nobody out.”

Read the full story at the Bakersfield Californian.

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