Protesters rally against McMorris Rodgers over AHCA vote at Bellevue fundraiser

Darci Ladwig came to Bellevue from Spokane for one reason — to make her representative hear her.

Ladwig and scores of protesters came to Downtown Bellevue to rally against Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who was attending a $5,000-a-plate fundraiser at Daniel’s Broiler.

McMorris Rodgers, a Republican representing Washington’s 5th Congressional District since 2005, voted to replace the Affordable Care Act with President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act. She was the only representative from the state to vote for the bill. Two other Republicans, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dave Reichert, voted no on the bill. Rep. Dan Newhouse did not vote.

For Ladwig, whose 14-year-old daughter Zoe was born 15-weeks premature with a bevy of health issues, the passing of the AHCA in the House of Representatives is terrifying.

“Health care is a right,” she said. “If Medicaid is cut, I would not be able to begin to cover her needs.”

Zoe spent the first several months of her life in Spokane’s Sacred Heart Hospital and has had scoliosis surgeries, respiratory incidents and still needs daily support for things like using the restroom and getting dressed.

The bill, which passed by four votes, 217-213, called for more than $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid over the next decade and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would leave 23 million more Americans without health insurance by 2026, including 344,000 in Washington and 36,200 in Washington’s 5th District. More than 38,900 residents in Washington’s 9th Congressional District — which covers most of Bellevue — would lose insurance, and 29,600 in the 1st Congressional District, which covers most of the Eastside and east King County, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

The United States Senate has said it will write its own version of the bill.

Ladwig works for The Arc of Spokane, which works with people with disabilities. She said many of her clients will be impacted if the bill is implemented as written.

Ladwig and other representatives of Washington’s 5th arrived in Bellevue to hold McMorris Rodgers accountable and to encourage the Senate to not vote for what they viewed as a fatally flawed bill.

“It’s kind of crazy she is doing fundraisers in towns she doesn’t represent and skipping town halls here in Spokane,” she said.

For the representative, she penned a column in the Washington Post about her own struggles with her son being born with Down syndrome.

“Our plan accomplishes this mission in two key ways: by guaranteeing that access to health coverage can’t be denied for people with preexisting conditions, and by empowering states to innovate with new models for better patient outcomes at a lower cost,” the Congresswoman wrote. “This bill isn’t perfect. It doesn’t include every single component I wanted. But it came down to the AHCA or the continued disaster of Obamacare, which was an easy choice.”

According to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, more than one in four Americans between 18 and 64 has a pre-existing condition. Other media outlets, including Politifact, have reported that “the AHCA does keep the requirement that people with pre-existing conditions must be offered health insurance. But it would drop Obamacare’s rules capping how much extra those people can be charged.”

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