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Fresno groups celebrate failed GOP health bill, but ‘the fight is not over’

Fresno health-care protest comes as GOP delays vote on measure to repeal Obamacare

Fresno advocates gather July 18, 2017 to protest the GOP health-care proposal.
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Fresno advocates gather July 18, 2017 to protest the GOP health-care proposal.

Advocacy groups met outside Fresno’s federal courthouse on Tuesday to celebrate the demise of the GOP health-care plan, but warned the fight is not over.

“We are deeply concerned about the Better Care Reconciliation Act and its provisions that would cut federal funding for Medi-Cal recipients if it were to pass,” said Nu Vang, with the Fresno Center for New Americans. “Over 500,000 San Joaquin Valley residents would lose health coverage, and that would have drastic negative affects on our families, young children and communities of color.”

Tuesday’s gathering, held in Fresno’s scorching heat, was organized by Mi Familia Vota and supported by groups including the Latino Coalition for A Healthy California. Their message was for local representatives like Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, and David Valadao, R-Hanford, to “save health care” for central San Joaquin Valley residents – about half of whom are recipients of Medi-Cal, which would be cut drastically by the GOP plan.

Healthcare is not a luxury meant for the select few, but should be available for everyone.

Jennifer Rojas, Services Immigrant Rights and Education Network.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act – the proposed replacement for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act – failed to gather necessary support in the Senate on Monday, putting the future of health care in flux. President Donald Trump proposed letting “Obamacare fail” on Tuesday, and Senate leaders have suggested repealing the ACA and coming up with a replacement plan later, since the repeal-and-replace efforts unexpectedly crumbled.

“While we were heartened by the latest news that the bill to replace Obamacare has failed to secure the necessary votes, we remain vigilant and concerned that members of Congress will be putting forth a repeal-only bill,” said Jennifer Rojas, of the Services Immigrant Rights and Education Network. “This is unacceptable. Health care is not a luxury meant for the select few, but should be available for everyone.”

Melissa Hurtado, an organizer with Health Access – an advocacy group for public health coverage like Medicaid and Medicare – urged local officials to treat the issue as a human right, not a political battle.

The bill continues to be as dangerous as it has been.

Pedro Elias, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

“When they talk to their constituents, they’ll know this health-care bill is not good for their district. It’s not a partisan issue. When I’m out there talking to people from Modesto to Bakersfield, their concern is their health care – their livelihood,” Hurtado said. “We know the votes are not there to support this bill, but the fight is not over. The reality is we’ve got to continue to pressure our legislators. We’ve got to continue making sure that they know this bill and any bill similar to it is bad for their constituents.”

Pedro Elias, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, said that in addition to plans to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, the Republican health-care proposal would hurt the country’s most vulnerable citizens – including the Valley’s poor and minority communities.

“The Valley is very much different than many other areas of this country. Let’s educate on the importance of where people struggle, and why we need health care in these communities,” he said. “The bill continues to be as dangerous as it has been.”

Mackenzie Mays: 559-441-6412, @MackenzieMays

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