CORRECTION: This article was updated on Sept. 25 at 1:20 p.m. as it stated that the constituents at this rally were hoping to sway Congressman Ed Royce toward voting against the Graham-Cassidy Bill. However, the bill is to be voted on by the Senate and not the House of Representatives.
A circle of about 40 protesters held hands in unity in front of District 39 Congressman Ed Royce’s campaign office in Yorba Linda Saturday to serve as an emotional support system for those scared of potentially losing their health care.
The Hear Our Voice Healthcare Rally, which was co-hosted by Indivisible CA-39, the Courage Campaign and the #Fight4OurHealth coalition, hoped to urge Royce to oppose the bill proposed by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.
Indivisible CA-39 Action Committee Chair Viviana Martinez helped organize the rally to attract Royce’s attention.
“We’re just trying to find a way to say ‘Hey, we’re not scary people. We’re just your constituents and we want to have a conversation with you. We don’t agree with the choices you’re making when you vote and you’re representing us, and we’re a big part of this population and I think you should care,’” Martinez said.
The Graham-Cassidy Bill could create a block grant program allowing states to control the spending of its hospitals and end former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which has provided services like affordable and low-cost health insurance to people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions.
The potentially affected constituents shared their stories and voiced their opposition to the Graham-Cassidy Bill.
Rally signs read “Medicaid cuts hurt the most fragile … like my dad,” and some of the stories shared ranged from daughters with spinal muscular atrophy to sons with cerebral palsy.
“I don’t know what would be the next step. (My son) wouldn’t have services. I’d have to quit my job, then what would I do? How would I live? How would I take care of him?” said Foothill Ranch resident Laura Reyes.
Reyes’ son is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and relies heavily on medical services.
“Shame on them!” was the crowd’s response..
Martinez said the ACA has made a big difference from before it was enacted, when it was difficult to treat everyone that needed aid but couldn’t afford it.
“I remember life before the ACA and what it was like and I know what life has been since the ACA and how many people have been helped,” she said.
Martinez said that when she worked for a private nonprofit that was medical based, she would be faced with the difficulty of not being able to aid everyone because of funding.
“Many times, it was always a routine. April would hit, and we’d get the numbers and be told ‘Ok we don’t have enough money to get through June so we have to end services,’ whether or not people were ready,” Martinez said.
Placentia resident Christian Swann shared the story of his 7-year-old daughter Kennedy, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy.
“The FDA approved the first treatment to treat her disease. Her treatment is $750,000 a year, every single year for the rest of her life. Without the ACA, she won’t be able to have this treatment, SPINRAZA (the first FDA-approved therapy for SMA),” Swann said. “Without treatment, Kennedy would grow weaker and weaker until she passes away.”
Swann said they are lucky to have a good health care plan but said with the Graham-Cassidy Bill, that could all be over.
The rally concluded with protesters moving toward the front of Royce’s new campaign office to take a commemorative photo and release a final chorus of steadfast chanting.
The office had a volunteer event to spread word of Royce’s upcoming reelection campaign and Patrick Mocete, Royce’s campaign manager, closed the door of the office while protesters chanted in front.
“They have their right to protest and we completely respect that right,” Mocete said. “We’re doing what we came here to do today and it seems like they are too and for the most part, I think it was respectful on their end. So we’re happy about that.”
The Senate must get 50 votes of approval to repeal Obamacare and to fulfill the reconciliation rules process. The deadline for the Senate to acquire 50 votes is Sept. 30.
Amy Wells contributed to this report.