Lawmakers got an earful from constituents in Tennessee on Thursday night during a town hall to talk about the future of the Affordable Care Act, the law better known as Obamacare.
Republican Rep. Diane Black held a town hall about the healthcare law at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesburo, Tennessee, and was confronted by multiple constituents who pushed back against the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace the ACA.
One man, Mike Carlson, confronted Black about the repeal, saying that the law has allowed him to gain access to life-saving coverage.
“I am an overweight person. I have to have coverage to make sure I don’t die,” he said. “There are people who have cancer that have that coverage that have to have that coverage to make sure they don’t die. And you want to take away this coverage and have nothing to replace it with. How can I trust you to do anything that’s in our interest at all?”
Another person in attendance, Jessi Bohon, pointed to her Christian faith as a reason to support the law.
“it’s in my understanding that the ACA mandate requires everyone to have insurance because the healthy people pull up the sick people, right?” she said. “As a Christian, my whole philosophy in life is to pull up the unfortunate. So the individual mandate, that’s what it does, the healthy people pull up the sick.”
Bohon also criticised a proposal favoured by Republicans that would put sicker people in high-risk pools for those with preexisting conditions, saying “we are effectively punishing our sickest people” by using the pools. Bohon pointed to previous state high-risk pools, which have exhibited high costs and poor coverage.
Bohon asked why the government doesn’t just “fix” the ACA or provide Medicaid for all instead of repealing the law.
Black pushed back on both Carlson and Bohon’s statements, according to CNN, saying that the Republicans replacement law would offer coverage to all Americans. Black said that while the ACA has provided coverage for more tha 20 million Americans, there are still people that go without insurance and the GOP plans to fix that.
The current uninsured rate is 8.6% according to the Department of Health and Human Services, the lowest ever. Tennessee, which has not expanded its Medicaid program under the ACA, has an uninsured rate of 11.8%.
Bohon said she is a teacher and receives coverage through the state’s government, according to the CNN report. Both Carlson and Bohon voted for Hillary Clinton, according to the report.
Tennessee saw one of the highest increases in premiums for Obamacare in 2017, with costs for the average silver level plan increasing by 63% from the year before.
Watch Carlson’s and Bohon’s statements below:
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