“Are you willing to trade places with someone who is as vulnerable as the most vulnerable of any us? Do you want to trade places with us?” asked Reverend Jill Saxby late this afternoon at a health care town hall. Her questions were directed to colleagues of Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D) whose health care insurance is legendary. Reverend Saxby was referring to her husband, Ed, who is currently one of a “handful” undergoing clinical trials for cancer at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. (See left photo of Ed Saxby.)
“I’m covered under the Affordable Care Act. If it’s repealed without protection, I will lose my access to health care. I will die,” Ed explained. At 60 years old, he is taking an immuno therapy drug to battle cancer. If the current Trumpcare passes, it will not cover this trial treatment because it’s so “bare bones. If the treatment is successful, there are 10,000 people behind me for this therapy and 100,000 right behind them,” he said. “The doctors want to find out if this targeted treatment works on non-Hodgkins lymphona. It may replace using toxic chemotherapy.”
Nicole Clegg, of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and a member of the panel of health care experts participating in the town hall, noted that Trumpcare strips funding for her organization. There is no reasonable explanation or justification for this step, Clegg said. “No health care provider has ever been targeted in this way. This is a purely political move.” One speaker expressed her distress at how “sexist” Trumpcare is.
Following presentations by Congresswoman Pingree and the panel, speaker after speaker voiced their fears and anxieties on numerous aspects of Trumpcare during the 2 l/2 hour town hall at King Middle School, Portland. There were several digs at Senator Susan Collins (R) who has refused to meet with her constituents in the Portland area in a similar format, although she has been seen hiding out in tv studios in Bangor. On occasion she has cited the “incivility” of voters who want to meet with her in an open and public format. Many believe that she has failed to adequately justify her support for AG Jeff Sessions in view of his lying during his Senate confirmation hearing recently about contact with Russian officials.
Maine has the oldest population in the country and seniors are the ones who will be most hurt by Trumpcare, Pingree told the SRO crowd, who received a lengthy standing ovation when she entered the town hall at 4:00 pm. The House is scheduled to vote on Trumpcare this Thursday. “They don’t usually bring a bill to the floor for a vote unless they think it can pass,” she said. “Some think the bill is too strident and others think it is not strident enough. There are negotiations on-going to improve its chances of passage on Thursday.” Pingree advised her constituents to stay active, engaged and knowledgeable on the proposal as it works its way through Congress. “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” advised one speaker.
Several said that the Democrats were too nice to the Republicans and needed to be tougher in dealing with them on healthcare reform. “We need to raise hell,” said one speaker.