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Grijalva rallies against GOP’s new healthcare proposal

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CONGRESSMAN Raúl M. Grijalva holds a healthcare town hall July 8 at Westview High School in Avondale to discuss ongoing efforts in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act. To see all photos from this shoot, go to www.westvalleyview.com/pictures. View photo by Ray Thomas
CONGRESSMAN Raúl M. Grijalva holds a healthcare town hall July 8 at Westview High School in Avondale to discuss ongoing efforts in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act. To see all photos from this shoot, go to www.westvalleyview.com/pictures. View photo by Ray Thomas

Congressman says officials have ‘gotten an earful’ during public debate

The debate over healthcare policy arrived in the West Valley last weekend with a town hall sponsored by Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva, who said Congress should abandon a Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

As Congress returns to the issue this week after a July 4 recess, Grijalva said he was optimistic that representatives have heard citizens’ complaints about the plan that has passed the House and is under consideration by the Senate.

Everybody has gotten an earful of what the public wants,” Grijalva said at the public meeting July 8 at Westview High School in Avondale.

Grijalva, who represents District 3, which covers parts of the West Valley, said Congress should “scrap” the current proposal and start over to work to improve the Affordable Care Act.

There are fixes that the Affordable Care Act needs,” he said about the signature legislative achievement of President Barack Obama also known as Obamacare.

Grijalva claimed the Republican alternative that studies suggest could end insurance coverage for millions is not a healthcare plan but a political move to provide tax relief for those earning $1 million or more.

It has little to do with healthcare and everything to do with a political agenda,” he said. “It’s a shift in wealth and it’s a tax cut agenda.”

He said the plan would mean rising costs for working families while undercutting benefits and slashing Medicaid programs that had been expanded under the Affordable Care Act.

Also speaking at the town hall, Dana Naimark, president of the Children’s Action Alliance, said proposed cuts to Medicaid would mean 65,000 more children in the state becoming uninsured and putting at risk 2 million children, seniors and disabled covered by the state’s AHCCCS program.

She said the impact to the state budget could pit healthcare against education funding.

Bryan Howard, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Arizona, said the proposal would prohibit women and men who get healthcare through AHCCCS from going to the seven clinics in the state where the organization provides annual exams, STD and HIV testing, birth control and abortion care.

This bill needs to be stopped so we can have a conversation about the changes that are needed,” Howard said.

With several Republicans refusing to support the Senate bill, Grijalva predicted it would be difficult for the GOP leadership to get 50 votes necessary for passage.

He said a recent proposal to repeal Obamacare now and replace it sometime in the future won’t work.

At the end of the day, they can’t seem to get anything done,” Grijalva said of Republicans, who made repealing the Affordable Care Act a major issue in the 2016 election.

But Grijalva encouraged people to express themselves on healthcare.

The pressure has to intensify,” he said.

Grijalva called on Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Republicans, to reveal their positions on the healthcare bill.

At some point, tell us, do you support the bill that’s in the Senate?” he said.

Grijalva also took to task his Republican colleagues who he said have not met with the public about the issue.

Part of the responsibility is to listen to hear maybe opposing viewpoints,” said Grijalva, noting that he had done just that during “brutal” town halls before the Affordable Care Act was approved in 2010.

While Republican lawmakers across the country have faced angry constituents at town halls this time around, Grijalva’s meeting was peaceful, drawing about 100 people who appeared to generally agree with the congressman.

Of about a dozen citizens who spoke, only one came out against government involvement in health insurance.

Others told stories about losing family members who died without health insurance.

Grijalva said “the next logical step” is a House bill known as “Medicare for all,” which would drop the age eligibility for the government insurance plan that covers those 65 and older.

 

Glenn Gullickson can be reached at ggullickson@westvalleyview.com.

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