HELENA — About 50 people gathered outside of Sen. Steve Daines’ Helena office on Wednesday afternoon to urge him to vote no on the Senate healthcare bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The gathering happened several hours before a tele town hall on Wednesday night, but people said they were frustrated with that process. Alex Street, with Indivisible Helena, said he’s encouraging people to still be a part of the town hall, but said they are often muted after asking a question. Instead of being able to clarify or press Daines on an issue, he’s allowed to continue with his talking points, Street said.
“We’ve been a little frustrated with that,” he said. “But it kind of suits him.”
To supplement calling his offices each day and being part of the town hall, citizens wrote a letter with their concerns regarding cuts to Medicaid, high deductibles and a possibility insurers can exclude people with pre-existing conditions.
Voting was delayed on the bill until after the July 4 recess and amendments are still being made, but the letter said deep cuts will remain at its core.
“There is no good version of this bill,” the letter says. “With so many lives and livelihoods at stake, please stand up for Montana and oppose this bill.”
Becca Leaphart and her 3-year-old son held a sign that said “The decision isn’t brain surgery, but your vote could cost me mine.”
Leaphart’s son had his first brain surgery at 5 months. He has hydrocephalus, or a buildup of too much fluid in the brain. A draining tube was placed, but additional surgeries are often necessary if the tube is outgrown or becomes clogged.
Leaphart, a teacher, said she has good insurance through her job. But she’s worried the Better Care Reconciliation Act, if passed, would allow insures to place a cap. She said a patient who needs multiple brain surgeries could easily approach a coverage limit and have to pay the rest of their healthcare costs, for life.
“He’d be in big trouble,” she said.
Daines has not yet taken a public position on the bill.