As galvanizing as the travel ban has been, protests are forming around other issues President Trump has identified as priorities. Among them, de-funding Planned Parenthood and rescinding the Affordable Care Act. One group is protesting in Westfield, outside the offices of Republican Representative Leonard Lance. NJTV News Correspondent Michael Hill was there.
Mary Alice Williams: Michael, how many people are out there?
Hill: Mary Alice, probably about 150, but the crowd is growing. Take a look at some of the signs. They want this administration, this new administration to keep the Affordable Care Act — that’s the signature legislation of the previous administration. Look at some of the signs — “Health care, not wealth care,” “Resist Trump,” “Working families, your vote counts,” “Vote for families here.” There’s another one over here — “Medicare for all.” There are a few more over here as well as they’re protesting out here. Now, a couple of weeks ago, when they were out here protesting, the congressman was actually here and invited some of the folks in. With us now, Hetty Rosenstein, of course you know her with CWA and Marci Bandelli is here as well. Marci, you were among the people who actually went in to meet with the congressman.
Bandelli: We did. He invited about 20 people in. We asked him in every which way to please not repeal the ACA. His response was, “I campaigned on repeal and replacement and I won,” which was very disheartening. This is a great bill. It needs to be fixed, but it’s a great bill and we’re going to lose a lot of protections if this bill is repealed.
Hill: Hetty, let me ask you, what hope do you have in appealing to this congressman based on him running for Congress, running for re-election knowing that that’s his appeal to the public is that he wants this bill repealed, this law?
Rosenstein: I think he feels a lot of pressure. The fact is that New Jersey has over 700,000 people who will lose their health care if the ACA is lost. And our hospitals, every hospital in New Jersey will be in danger if they just repeal without a replacement. The folks that are across the street, these are people from his district. They’re from Westfield, they’re from Millburn and their stories there, I talked to a young woman who’s an attorney who has multiple sclerosis. She will never be able to get health care. She’ll have a pre-existing condition. She’ll lose the ACA, she’ll never get health care. There’s story after story on every single block in this state, including in Leonard Lance’s district.
Hill: Hetty, are you encouraged at all? You heard what Marci said. He invited some of the protesters in, he sat and he listened. Is that encouraging in any way?
Rosenstein: I don’t know if it’s encouraging that he listened there. He is feeling pressure as is every single one of them. There are demonstrations like this outside of every Republican congressman’s office tonight, but it isn’t just us. It’s the hospital association, it’s the providers and it’s people on every single block who will lose out. So I think that he has to listen. It is a disaster if they repeal without a replacement. It will destroy our economy and it will destroy families in New Jersey.
Hill: Hetty, just a few seconds left. Have we heard any talk about a replacement? What the plan is?
Rosenstein: They don’t have any plan at all. They talk about health care savings account. They have no plan. And I would just remind folks Tom MacArthur, a Republican congressman, has come out against repeal. And Leonard Lance can come out against repeal too.
Hill: Hetty, thank you very much. And Marci, thank you as well. As you hear there, a lot of protesters here outside Congressman Lance’s office hoping that he’ll reverse course and go along with keeping the Affordable Care Act.