Protests Mounting Before Sen. Rob Portman as Health Care Vote Nears

[image-1]Tribe fans will bear witness not only to Lonnie Chisenhall's woodshed precision at this Friday's game against the Twins of Minnesota, but also to a message in the sky: “SENATOR PORTMAN: TRUMPCARE HURTS WOMEN."

A plane, commissioned by UltraViolet Action, will fly around The Jake on June 23, broadcasting a plea to Sen. Rob Portman in the waning days before an expected U.S. Senate vote on the latest draft of the American Health Care Act. It's one of many last-ditch attempts at public protest before the senator, who's sort of wavered in his stance to the AHCA's evolution in Congress. (Portman's last real statement on the bill, upon its passage in the House: "We will review the new analysis as we work on a different approach here in the Senate.")

This morning, constituents aligned with Indivisible staged a sit-in at Portman's Washington, D.C., office. Last week, UltraViolet hosted another sit-in at Portman's Cleveland office (and at the offices of other Republican senators).

Recall that the Senate's new version of the AHCA bill has been drafted and constructed in secret by a small contingent of power, with no public hearings ahead of what seems by most accounts to be a rushed vote. The general theory, based on the last failed attempt to pass the AHCA earlier this year, is that Sen. Mitch McConnell would not be taking this thing to the floor unless the votes were locked in. Portman has yet to declare how he'll vote on this next week.

The Congressional Budget Office will likely report on this next version of the bill when it's public, but recall also that the last version received abysmal marks by any reasonable standard of health care. Some 1 million Ohioans would likely lose access to health coverage in the event that the AHCA replaces the Affordable Care Act, and the state's aging population would no doubt face incredibly costly obstacles to insurance in the years ahead.

Senate "moderates," like Portman — and Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) — likely hold the key to staving off an affirmative vote for the AHCA. Their basic dispositions on the bill have been tied to the impending Medicaid expansion rollback (they want it to be as gradual as possible). Without knowing the details of the Senate bill, it's hard to say whether McConnell will make sure to bend to their wishes or will pursue the baseline Republican rallying cry of scaling back Medicaid quickly over the next few years.
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Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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