About 50 of Glenn Thompson’s constituents protested what they called the “death of affordable health care” outside of Bonfatto’s, where the congressman was attending a private event with supporters on Monday.
Some of the protesters dressed in black, others held signs shaped like tombstones. There was even a coffin.
“It sounds like a fitting tribute to all the victims of Obamacare,” said Thompson, R-Howard Township, who didn’t go outside to speak the protesters.
Health care is the issue people are most passionate about, said Marc Friedenberg, co-founder of PA5 Truth and Action, which organized the “die-in” protest.
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Leah Witzig said the Republican plan for health care and insurance (American Health Care Act) is “diametrically opposed” to the needs of the 5th Congressional District, which Thompson represents.
It hits home for Witzig because she has five grandchildren — two of them have pre-existing conditions, one who will need lifetime care.
They deserve to get as good of care as Thompson does, she said.
“I worked hard to make sure the (AHCA) took care of older adults in the individual market, that they would not be priced out,” Thompson said. “… I worked hard to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions would be able to get access to purchase affordable insurance.”
He said the GOP bill out of the House is a good start, and he’s also confident that the Senate will improve upon it.
Cate Fricke said she protested to make sure Thompson knew how upset his constituents are about his yes vote on the AHCA.
“I think that there are so many seniors and people with pre-existing conditions, people in vulnerable communities, in his district that he clearly ignored,” she said. “It’s also been really disheartening to see him go along with pretty much anything that Trump and his team put down the line.”
What the protesters need to do next, Witzig said, is to reach out to all of Thompson’s constituents, especially those who live where there are higher poverty levels.
She said they need to see what problems those constituents have with the Affordable Care Act and what they like about the AHCA.
That’s when the protesters will be able to convince Thompson that it’s not just a Centre County issue, but a PA5 issue, Witzig said.