Former Tallahassee mayor leads call for protest over Senate healthcare bill
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
What the public is being told and what’s actually in a healthcare bill that is struggling in the U.S. Senate are vastly different, said former Tallahassee mayor Dorothy Inman-Johnson.
Inman-Johnson also urged residents in Tallahassee and throughout the state to protest the bill that’s intended to repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act. She called for an all-out protest across the state to urge senators in Washington, D.C., to abandon their plans to push the bill through.
The country has too much to lose if the bill is approved and signed by President Donald Trump, Inman-Johnson said.
“Put simply, while this plan claims to reduce premiums and deductibles; in truth it forces us to pay most of our healthcare directly by transferring the cost from health insurance companies to our wallets.”
“I want to bring home to local residents, residents in small counties surrounding our region exactly what they have to lose.”
She was supported by two prominent healthcare providers – Mark O’Bryant, CEO at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, and pediatric cardiologist Louis St Petery.
Inman-Johnson’s husband, Lee Johnson, pastor at Trinity United Presbyterian Church, joined in the call for protest.
O’Bryant admitted the current healthcare law needs minor tweaking but not a wholesale overhaul as being proposed by the Republicans in Congress and the Senate. Congress passed a version of the bill earlier this year, but it has been stuck in the Senate for more than two months.
One of the biggest proposed changes is the impact the bill will have on patients who rely on Medicaid, according to Politifacts. The bill also will dilute or eliminate coverage for patients with pre-existing illnesses.
A recent survey showed that only 12 percent of the country supports the bill in congress.
“The Senate bill does not do this country any favors,” O’Bryant said. “When you talk about making healthcare for families and children, all of that will impact the healthcare of our community and our nation.”
All of the participants in the press conference called for Medicaid to stay intact. St. Petery was especially concerned about the impact having to go without Medicaid would have on pregnant mothers and newborn infants.
Medicaid funds 52 percent of deliveries in the state, he said.
“It’s time to work on resolving those as oppose to throwing out the baby with the bathwater,” St. Petery said.
Inman-Johnson outlined a list of seven ways that the bill will hurt patients, including the release of employers from mandatory coverage for their employees. Small rural communities also could be impacted, she said.
“They tell you everybody will have access, but they are not telling you the real story,” Iman-Johnson said.
“The more noise that you make, the more impact you are going to have on not letting this piece of legislation pass. This is a charge; let’s protest. Let our voices be heard.”