On its second attempt at a vote, U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act with a slim victory Thursday afternoon. House Republicans got just enough votes to pass the Affordable Care Act replacement. They needed 216 votes, and they got 217—while just 213 representatives voted against it.
Before the vote, a pop-up protest came to outside a Central Ohio congressional office. About 30 to 40 people with Indivisible 15th protested the vote outside Rep. Steve Stivers' office in Hilliard. Stivers represents the 15th district just below Franklin County.
Protest leader Ryan Steiner said the group wants more communication from Stivers.
“In the last week and a half or so since we knew this bill was gonna be resurrected, we’ve been calling everyday nonstop around the clock. Sending faxes, sending emails, Facebook messages, just wanting to know what his feelings are,” Steiner said.
"This is a first step in fixing the issues of the high out-of-pocket costs of health care premiums and the bureaucracy of the ACA, though it is not a perfect bill," Stivers said in a press release. "This bill works to protect people with pre-existing conditions. While it requires patients to take responsibility for keeping continuous coverage, it provides help for those who lose their job or circumstances change."
NPR reports that the bill passed by the House actually allows states to seek waivers for many of the patient protections in Obamacare, including those aimed at helping people with pre-existing conditions. The bill was passed before the Congressional Budget Office could issue it a score, showing its cost or impact on insurance rates.
Protestor Mary Mynatt came from Grove City to demand more discussion.
"We have genuine questions," Mynatt says. "We want dialogue with Representative Stivers. We do not want individual meetings with Representative Stivers because he can’t meet with all of us.”
Most Ohio politicians in the U.S. House of Representatives fell along party lines in today's vote. Of Ohio's 16 congressional representatives, 10 Ohio Republicans voted in favor of the legislation.
The four Democratic representatives in the state voted "no," and were joined by Republicans Michael Turner in the 10th district and David Joyce in the 14th.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where it faces a rockier path. Both of Ohio Senators have issued statements against the American Health Care Act.
"I continue to have concerns that this bill does not do enough to protect Ohio's Medicaid expansion population, especially those who are receiving treatment for heroin and prescription drug abuse," said Sen. Rob Portman in a statement.
Congress must take responsible action to lower health care costs, but these changes must be made in a way that does not leave ppl behind.
— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) May 4, 2017
Sen. Sherrod Brown, meanwhile, issued a briefer response.
This bill is heartless, it is bad for Ohio, and it will leave real Ohioans struggling to afford care. -SB
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) May 4, 2017