Activists cry cowardice as Republican senators shut doors to healthcare town halls
Pat Toomeys closed-door talk saw him accused of not having the courage to speak to those affected, while Ted Cruz also faced dissent at his ticket-only event
At a town hall in Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, Republican senator Pat Toomey faced an angry protest over his role in the GOP healthcare bill, while Ted Cruz was heckled over his suggested amendment to the legislation at an event in Texas.
Scores of people gathered outside the ABC27 studio in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Toomey was holding what had been billed as a town hall meeting.
But in reality just eight audience members were allowed into the invite-only event, and their questions had been pre-screened by the news channel.
The closed-door approach did not endear Toomey to the sign-waving protesters outside, who accused the senator of not having courage to speak to people who would be personally affected by the Senate healthcare legislation he helped to write.
Cruz, meanwhile, was heckled at what in theory should have been a safe event; a ticket-only town hall veterans discussion hosted by Concerned Veterans for America a rightwing advocacy group financed by the Koch brothers.
Audience questions for Cruz at the event in McKinney, north of Dallas, had been screened in advance by the CVA, but two audience members went rogue to quiz and interrupt the Texas senator over his proposed tweak to the Senate bill.
The Better Care Reconciliation act, which the Congressional Budget Office says would leave an additional 22m people without healthcare, is currently stuck in the Senate without enough votes to pass. Cruzs amendment would allow insurance companies to sell plans that do not include the Affordable Care Act (ACA)-mandated essential health benefits, in a move he claims would reduce costs.
At the town hall, however, Cruzs adversaries repeatedly shouted him down as he attempted to defend his measure.
When you mandate what every policy has to cover you drive up the cost of insurance, Cruz said, which means fewer people can afford healthcare. The essential health benefits also made people pay for coverage that they dont necessarily want, he said.
Its all fine and good to mandate that everybody get coverage for everything at all times, but what happens in practice is the prices go so high that people are left out in the cold.