Kansas City was sunny Friday afternoon, but that didn’t stop residents from using their umbrellas downtown.
About 60 protesters, umbrellas open, rallied outside Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt’s office and urged him to vote against the health care bill championed by U.S. Senate Republicans.
The umbrellas were symbolic — the protesters chanted, “Keep us covered.”
“The bills that the Senate have been working on … put all of our coverage in danger, whether you have an employer-based health care plan, whether you use Medicaid, Medicare, if you have pre-existing conditions,” said Jake Lupardus, 39, who organized the protest with Indivisible Kansas City.
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Blunt has supported the GOP health care bill, which would replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. If passed, it would slash Medicaid funding and scrap the requirement that most people prove they are insured.
The Senate has not yet voted on the bill or enlisted enough votes to pass it.
Protesters passed around a megaphone and expressed worry about what would happen to their coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. Many feared the new bill wouldn’t cover their pre-existing conditions.
Christy Barnes, 68, said she is covered through Medicare, “but if something happens and I can’t get my tie-in plan, I have a pre-existing condition. I have a lung disease.
“I’m out of luck if that happens,” she said.
Protesters taped signs to their umbrellas or held them: “Rural Missouri needs Medicaid: Don’t sell us out,” “RIP 23 million losing healthcare.”
Jake Acuff said the new bill would defund Planned Parenthood.
“Planned Parenthood acts as a primary-care provider for tens of thousands of Americans who depend on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid to get access to care,” said Acuff, who works for Planned Parenthood.
In a Friday statement, Blunt said he would continue to support the bill.
“The Senate draft health care legislation is not perfect, but it takes some important steps to help families and small businesses that are struggling under Obamacare. My hope is that we will be able to find common ground on solutions that address the needs of Missourians and create a more stable and reliable health care system,” Blunt said in the statement.
Other protesters implored Blunt to host a town hall meeting. Several commended U.S. Republican Sen. Jerry Moran, who met with constituents Thursday in rural Palco, Kan. Moran, a swing vote on the bill, said he does not support it.
Joan Shores, 76, traveled from Harrisonville to protest at Blunt’s office.
“Do your job. Come see us,” she said. “And if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”