© 2024 WUKY
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

In Texas, Opponents Rally Against Senate Republican Health Care Bill


Politicians in Texas have been opposed to the Affordable Care Act since the beginning. Repealing and replacing the law has been a rallying cry for them for years. But a University of Texas and Texas Tribune poll this month shows that while Obamacare is unpopular, so is GOP legislation to replace it. And this weekend, some took to the streets to voice their opposition to GOP plans. Wendy Rigby from Texas Public Radio reports.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) The people united will never be divided.

WENDY RIGBY, BYLINE: This is one of the least-likely places you'd expect to see a political rally - Fredericksburg, Texas, an upscale, touristy retirement town of 10,000 people in the Texas Hill Country. It's rural, beautiful, a haven for fishing and camping, well known for its fresh peaches.


THE IMPEACHES: (Singing) Donald Trump dump. Donald Trump...

RIGBY: This weekend, a choir called The Impeaches took center stage at the main square.


THE IMPEACHES: (Singing) You've got to know how to listen to a lady.

RIGBY: The vocal crowd of about 200 was a mix of men and women, old and young, all gathered against the Republican plan to change the ACA, one of them 73-year-old Jane Crone.

JANE CRONE: We just have to make our voices heard and get the message out that what's going on with our legislation right now is not to the best interest of the majority of Americans.


RIGBY: They waived handmade signs with provocative messages. One senior's note read, now you've pissed off grandma. The Bill's cuts to Medicaid threaten the 65 percent of people in nursing homes who are supported by Medicaid.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Trump care, don't care, Trump care, don't care...

RIGBY: J.B. Chimene, a senior from Johnson City near Austin, says the proposed bill puts American health care in rewind.

J B CHIMENE: Cuts to Medicaid, the cuts to kids, the cuts to seniors - we really need to put more people under health care, not fewer.

RIGBY: Lily Beaumont was one of the youngest participants. She's in her 20s. She is one of the 1.2 million Texans who get insurance through the exchange.

LILY BEAUMONT: I get my insurance through the free market. I'm a freelance writer, so I'm very concerned about losing it.


RIGBY: At a western wear store just across the street from the rally, an employee muses about the gathering. Self-described libertarian Dean Osteen says he doesn't qualify for a subsidy and can't afford Obamacare, so he just pays the tax penalty. He's in favor of repealing and replacing the law to get coverage he can afford.

DEAN OSTEEN: I'm not that familiar with the Republican plan. But I am in favor of some sort of change. I would like to have health care at some point again.

RIGBY: Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country. The state didn't expand Medicaid, and the rate of people who get coverage from their employer is lower than the national average. But a June poll showed both Obamacare and the House version of the health care bill were unpopular.

SUSAN CURTIS: There's a lot more of us than you think.

RIGBY: That's Susan Curtis from the local Democratic club who says she was disappointed the Senate committee who came up with this latest plan behind closed doors was composed of only men.

CURTIS: I would have liked to have seen some of the women in the Senate included in this.

RIGBY: Marching with Curtis was Joyce Humble, who was opposed to the deep reductions for federal funding for Medicaid. Texas's Senator Cruz says he's against the bill as of now while Texas Senator Cornyn supports it.

What would you say to Senators Cruz and Cornyn?

JOYCE HUMBLE: I would say that this bill is an abomination. It is going to impact all of us out here in the Hill Country. For the people in nursing homes, disabled children, disabled adults - I mean what's going to happen to those people?

RIGBY: The Senate is scheduled to vote later this week. For NPR News, I'm Wendy Rigby in Fredericksburg, Texas.

SIEGEL: And that story is part of a reporting partnership of NPR, Texas Public Radio and Kaiser Health News.

(SOUNDBITE OF BONOBO'S "DAYS TO COME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Wendy Rigby is a San Antonio native who has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. She spent two decades at KENS-TV covering health and medical news. Now, she brings her considerable background, experience and passion to Texas Public Radio.