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Hundreds of Constituents Occupy All Senate Offices to Stop GOP Efforts to Kill Obamacare

Dozens of arrests demonstrate widespread opposition to Affordable Care Act repeal and the urgent need for healthcare for all.


WASHINGTON D.C. – In the largest demonstration against GOP efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to date, on Wednesday, July 19, more than 300 constituents from around the country, including patients with pre-existing conditions and health providers, occupied the offices of Republican Senators who have been plotting to repeal the ACA and make massive cuts to Medicaid. Around 100 of them were arrested while demanding that their elected officials stand up for the health of millions of working and poor Americans and not allow the Senate to repeal, replace, or defund Obamacare. The protesters were clear they will keep up the pressure until their elected officials speak up against the ACA repeal.  

The demonstrations took place on Wednesday, two days after the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which would strip 22 million people of healthcare coverage, came up two votes short and a day after Republican leadership failed to mount enough support for the repeal-only option. The demonstrations were aimed at keeping up the pressure on Senators following a week-long series of protests across the country to demand the healthcare America needs, rather than sacrificing lives to pay for a tax cut for the wealthy.

People with chronic health conditions, doctors, nurses and healthcare aides, traveled from Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Nevada, Virginia, West Virginia, and other states to demand that their elected officials to support a single-payer, Medicare for All healthcare system, which would guarantee quality healthcare to every person living in the United States.

“By repealing the ACA, Republican Senators are doing the bidding of their billionaire donors, not the lives of the people who they represent. Republicans are so obsessed with repealing the ACA that they’re willing to leave millions without healthcare and let people suffer preventable deaths,” said Jennifer Flynn, director of healthcare justice at Center for Popular Democracy.=

“We’ve have some victories these past days in pushing back the various nefarious versions of the Senate bill and repeal-only attempts. We’re here in D.C. because we know the fight is not yet over,” said Housing Works CEO and co-founder Charles King. “We are here to reiterate to every Republican Senator that they cannot repeal ACA and gut Medicaid. They need to shore up failing markets and put money into lowering premiums for middle-class, working people. They need to encourage all states to expand Medicaid, and they should extend Medicare to cover everyone 55 years old and over. Then we can fight for the single-payer healthcare system all Americans deserve.”

“I’ve been living with HIV for 26 years and I am alive because of my medication,” said Barb Cardell of Boulder, Colorado, who was arrested on July 10, and plans to risk arrest again Wednesday. “Without my medications, I would die, and without my health insurance, I can’t afford my meds, which cost $10,000 per month. I remember the early days of HIV when people got sick and just died. I have tried to speak with Senator Gardner about this many times and wasn’t able to reach him in Colorado, so I’ve come back today to try to find him myself.”

“Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s latest effort, to follow up on the failure to pass a ‘replacement’ plan for the ACA by a straight repeal would cause grievous harm for tens of millions of people, with no plan to take its place, adding insult to injury,” said Jean Ross, RN, co-president of National Nurses United. “But even with the ACA, far too many people remain without any health coverage, or with unconscionable out of pocket costs for needed medical care. It is way past time for the United States to join the civilized nations of the world by treating health care as a basic human right and pass Medicare for all.”

“I’m in Washington, DC, today—even though the news is reporting that the BCRA is dead and the repeal bill doesn’t have enough votes to pass—to protect the care of the estimated 1.2 million Americans living with HIV and millions with other chronic health conditions. Our Senators need to understand we will never back down and be quiet while they cut Medicaid and abandon people with preexisting conditions. We have seen this play out before in the House, and we won’t let it happen again in the Senate. As a woman with HIV, my family members and I are prepared to keep coming back and fighting in our district to make sure Congress and the Administration know: repeal is not acceptable,” said Waheedah Shabazz-El, Organizing Director, Positive Women’s Network - USA, Philadelphia, PA.

“The Republicans are waging a total assault on America’s health care by trying to repeal the ACA, end Medicaid and Medicare through repeal and the budget process, and sabotage the existing law. It shocks the conscience that they would do so much to harm so many people to try to score political points,” said Margarida Jorge and Ethan Rome, co-directors of Health Care for America Now.

The actions were led by Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), Housing Works, GMHC, National Nurses United, Rise and Resist, Positive Women’s Network - USA, and Health Care for America Now (HCAN). CPD is a member of the HCAN coalition.

Fifteen million Americans would lose their Medicaid coverage under the Senate bill, including 11 million because of ending Medicaid expansion alone. Medicaid provides coverage to one in five Americans, including 30 million children. It pays for half the births in the United States, 75% of all family planning services, 64% of nursing home care, and 30% of all care for people with disabilities. Nearly 2 million veterans get healthcare through Medicaid. Medicaid also costs far less per beneficiary than either Medicare or private health insurance, and its costs have been rising more slowly than private insurance.



The Center for Popular Democracy promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with innovative  base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial justice agenda.