Last night constituents from Ohio’s 12th Congressional District held a town hall meeting to discuss the Affordable Care Act (ACA). After Rep. Pat Tiberi ignored a petition signed by more than 1,000 constituents requesting a discussion in a public forum, they organized the town hall themselves. To date, more than 1,800 people have signed the petition.
Constituents personally delivered an invitation to Tiberi’s office last week, but Tiberi ignored the invitation and did not attend tonight’s event. Instead, Tiberi gave a speech at a $400-per-table fundraiser for the Knox County Republican Party in Mt. Vernon, which is outside of his district.
Members of Congress are in their home districts this week during their recess from Congress. However, Tiberi has not scheduled any public appearances at which constituents can have an open dialog about the ACA or other issues.
Organizers estimate that there were more than 1,000 constituents at tonight’s town hall, which was held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbus.
Before the event, attendees were able to participate in a mini health clinic, in which volunteer health care professionals provided health screenings and answered health-related questions. Event organizers also collected donations of personal care supplies for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Donations ranged from diapers and toothpaste to tampons and deodorant.
— Karin Cecile (@karincecile) February 23, 2017
During the event, attendees filled out postcards with questions and stories about the ACA. Those cards will be delivered to Rep. Tiberi’s office tomorrow (Thursday).
Speakers at the town hall included doctors and constituents for whom the ACA has provided vital coverage.
Dr. Beth Liston, a practicing physician in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics who lives in Dublin, underscores the value of the ACA for promoting health and preventing disease. “We need a health care system not a sick-care system,” says Liston. “The Affordable Care Act moves us towards this by focusing on preventing diseases and complications. It saves lives and decreases costs for all.”
Dr. Anita Somani—an OB/GYN, president of the Columbus Medical Association, and resident of Dublin—warns against regressive policies while highlighting the importance of the ACA for women’s health. “We cannot afford to turn back the clock on women’s health by repealing the ACA. When women have access to affordable and effective contraception unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortions drop dramatically. Do not let women go back to being ‘barefoot and pregnant.’”
Mindy Hedges, from Radnor, has benefited from being able to receive coverage despite her pre-existing condition. “I have been told I am uninsurable because I am a Type 1 Diabetic and have been for over 56 years,” says Hedges. “The Affordable Care Act saved my life by helping me buy insurance with a pre-existing condition and with reasonable expenditures. I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have this to fall back on after my business closed.”
Bill Wood, from Westerville, has tried to get Rep. Tiberi to understand the value of the ACA in the past, but without success. “Eight years ago, in 2009, when the Affordable Care Act was being debated in Washington, a dozen of us traveled to Rep. Tiberi’s office to ask for his support for a bill we knew would matter to us. On that day, we were told he was too busy to see us. For us, the Affordable Care Act isn’t a political or ideological issue. It’s something that is making a major difference in our lives.”
Repealing the ACA before a new bill is ready could result in nearly one million Ohioans losing their health coverage, according to an Urban Institute study.