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Thursday, July 20, 2017 12:07 am

Dying for better health care

Protest aims to put pressure on Rauner

Opponents of Republican health care changes demonstrated outside offices of the Illinois Policy Institue where, they say, Gov. Bruce Rauner is getting his policy ideas.
PHOTO BY LEE MILNER

 

On July 18 grassroots group Organizing for Action (OFA) staged a demonstration in front of the Illinois Policy Institute office on Second Street. The “Die-In” saw volunteers, community leaders and other Illinois constituents brandishing tombstone signs and sharing personal stories in defense of the embattled Affordable Care Act (ACA, a/k/a Obamacare) and in protest of the proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA a/k/a Trumpcare).

According to OFA spokesperson Scott Cross, the purpose of the Die-In is to confront Gov. Bruce Rauner regarding his silence on an issue that could have grave repercussions for large numbers of Illinois citizens, urging him to take a stand by joining a bipartisan group of governors who have spoken out against the BCRA.

“For seven years we heard from Republicans in Congress that they had a better way for health care in this country,” said Cross, “and it turns out their way was unpopular with every medical organization, every hospital, every federally qualified health center, as well as all medical groups, doctors groups, patient-centered focus organizations and even the insurance companies.” The fact that the BRCA failed to garner support early Tuesday was no cause for celebration. “Now they want to gut the ACA with no plan for replacement, putting 30 million people off health care,” Cross said.

Pointing out that the goal of the BRCA was to make drastic cuts to Medicaid while rewarding the wealthiest Americans with a tax break, Cross and his group see themselves as disillusioned patriots who want to see their country take a better course for the needs of its citizens. “We are a wealthy country, a country that can afford to do better and we should.”

The reason for holding the protests outside of the Illinois Policy Institute relates to the recent shakeup of the governor’s staff following the bipartisan override of Rauner’s veto of the recently passed state budget, with many of the high-level positions given to IPI associates, including new chief of staff Kristina Rasmussen, the former president of IPI. “As Gov. Rauner shifts farther to the right we are extremely concerned that members of the institute now have his ear, telling him Medicaid needs to be cut when in truth it saves lives. Our question to the governor is, as the leader of the Republican Party in Illinois, is he going to stand silent? Because if so, he will be partially to blame for this, because he has the power to talk to the representatives and he also has the power to call in Congress and tell them this is bad for Illinois. Why isn’t he doing that?”

Reports early Tuesday afternoon that the Senate’s “Plan C” (repealing without replacement) was losing support did not deter the OFA’s plans for the Die-In. “We are still on because there is still uncertainty and we still need to know where Gov. Rauner stands on this issue. That question has still not been answered and the public does not know.”

Scott Faingold can be reached at sfaingold@illinoistimes.com.

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