Springfield News-Leader: Dozen show up at Billy Long's Springfield office to oppose Republican health care plan

http://www.news-leader.com/story/news/politics/2017/05/04/dozen-show-up-billy-longs-springfield-office-oppose-republican-health-care-plan/101281830/

A dozen people — including a handful of clergy members — went to the Springfield office of Rep. Billy Long Thursday morning to tell his staff that the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could boot millions of Americans off their health insurance.

Earlier this week, Long opposed the repeal of what's known as Obamacare, saying he wanted to make sure people with pre-existing conditions would still be able to get health insurance.

After meeting with President Donald Trump, Long switched from a "no" to a "yes."

House Republicans made good on their years-long promise Thursday afternoon, to pass a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The final tally — 217 to 213 — reflected sharp divisions over the GOP’s proposal.

The protest in Springfield was organized by Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri, and people who attended delivered letters to Long's staff and spoke with the District Director Royce Reding.

Inside the lobby of Long's office, Lexi Amos, 31, told Reding she was concerned that her child had pre-existing conditions and could lose medical coverage under the Republicans' plan.

She and others raised concerns, saying the way they read the bill, people with pre-existing conditions will lose health insurance if it becomes law.

While Reding went back and forth with those present over the effects of the bill on health care, the meeting remained cordial. It appeared Reding knew and was familiar with several of the people already.

"As always, I will pass it on," Reding said when handed a letter.

Reding left for a meeting, and the group then moved outside Long's office and prayed.

Kenneth Chumbley, the reverend at Christ Episcopal Church in Springfield, said health care shouldn't be a "political issue," but a "human issue."

"My faith is grounded in the compassion of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ," Chumbley said. "This bill, I don't think, promotes healing ... it's all about helping some people — in their minds — keep a political promise."

Health care is "not a luxury, but a human right," he said.

Susan Schmalzbauer is the congregational coordinator for Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri. She said meetings are attended by a few dozen people and that those people represent between 20 to 30 congregations or religious groups.

LongCaroline KavitMO