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Illinoisans Celebrate The AHCA's Spectacular Failure Outside Trump Tower

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 24, 2017 3:41PM

What was supposed to be a protest outside Trump Tower Friday evening turned into a celebration after Congressional Republicans decided not to vote on the American Health Care Act thanks to a lack of support that crossed party lines.

“This is what victory feels like,” William McNary, co-director of the group Citizen Action told a crowd of more than 100 demonstrators. “Let’s be clear— we still much be vigilant. Just as hard as they fought to take away the ACA, they are coming back.”

The AHCA, a slapdash legislative effort by hardcore conservative legislators and President Donald Trump to make good on their years-long campaign to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Healthcare Act passed by President Barack Obama, could’ve kicked some 1.3 million Illinoisans off their health insurance plans. An analysis by Senator Dick Durbin’s office showed that additionally, hospitals would’ve seen their uncompensated care costs rise by $280 million. By 2020, individuals in Illinois would’ve seen their health care costs increase by $3,233, families by $6,298, and seniors by $8,439.

“Because of the people that are gathered here today, that is not going to happen,” McNary told reporters in an impromptu press conference on Wacker Drive. “Let me be clear though, as they keep fighting to take away health care, we have to fight to make sure it is fully funded, fully implemented, fully expanded.”

A disappointed President Trump predictably blamed Democrats. “With no Democrat support we couldn't quite get there," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. "We learned about loyalty, we learned a lot about the vote-getting process."

However, it wasn’t only Democrats that destroyed the House Speaker Paul Ryan-led effort to kicking poor people off their health insurance. Critics and those who would have been effected nationwide flooded their congresspeople with phone calls, emails and letters, and legislators who weren’t too terrified of their own constituents to host town halls often saw raucous and angry complaints from them.

Jax West, a resident of the 6th District, represented by Republican Peter Roskam, who once ducked out a back door to avoid angry constituents, was among the demonstrators.

“I’ve been to his Barrington office, Chicago office, Wheaton office and he’s nowhere to be found,” West told reporters. “He refuses to speak to us to tell us what he stands for and to listen to his constituents on what we truly want.”

But while Trump and representatives like Ryan and Roskam got jeers, the mood was celebratory, with cheers from those who would’ve lost their care.

“1.3 million people are going to sleep better tonight,” said Lynda DeLaforgue, co-director of Citizen Action Illinois. “I have stage 4 cancer and I can’t tell you what it means to me and how grateful I am to every single person who has written their congressperson, made a telephone call because people like me can go to sleep tonight and know that we’re going to have a roof over our head, that we’re not going to lose our life savings because we’ve got a preexisting condition or they’re going to put a million dollar limit on our healthcare.”

While also celebrating the repreive the ACA received, some Illinois legislators also took the opportunity to criticize those who championed the AHCA.

Republicans today have demonstrated their complete inability to govern,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky in a statement emailed to Chicagoist. “The vote on this legislation was their first big test as a governing party. Despite them having control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, they managed to fail spectacularly.”

Senator Dick Durbin Tweeted that the bill was “half baked,” and Senator Tammy Duckworth tweeted the death of the bill was “good news.”