Constituents from Ohio’s 12th Congressional District held a town hall meeting Wednesday evening (Feb. 22) to discuss the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
After saying that Rep. Pat Tiberi ignored a petition signed by more than 1,000 constituents requesting a discussion in a public forum, they organized the town hall, a news release states.
To date, more than 1,800 people have signed the petition.
Constituents delivered an invitation to Tiberi’s office the previous week, but Tiberi did not attend the Feb. 22 event. Instead, Tiberi gave a speech at a $400-per-table fundraiser for the Knox County Republican Party in Mount Vernon, which is outside of his district.
“Members of Congress are in their home districts this week during their recess from Congress. However, Tiberi has not scheduled any public appearances at which constituents can have an open dialog about the ACA or other issues, organizers maintain.” a news release states.
Organizers estimate there were more than 1,000 people at the town hall, which was held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbus.
During the event, attendees filled out postcards with questions and stories about the ACA. Those cards were to be delivered to Tiberi’s office Thursday (Feb. 23).
Tiberi’s office issued a response to the criticism Thursday morning.
“Rep. Tiberi has scheduled back-to-back meetings with constituents to discuss healthcare reform over the past several weeks in his central Ohio office. These are important opportunities for Rep. Tiberi to listen to their concerns, respond to them directly and engage in a constructive conversation,” according to Olivia Hnat, Tiberi spokeswoman.
“The event that Rep. Tiberi attended last night in Knox County had been scheduled for months. We received notice about this town hall with a week or so notice,” Hnat said.
Speakers at the town hall included doctors and constituents for whom the ACA has provided coverage.
Dr. Beth Liston, a practicing physician in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics who lives in Dublin, stressed the value of the ACA for promoting health and preventing disease.
“We need a health care system not a sick-care system,” said Liston. “The Affordable Care Act moves us towards this by focusing on preventing diseases and complications. It saves lives and decreases costs for all.”
Dr. Anita Somani, an OB/GYN, president of the Columbus Medical Association, and resident of Dublin, warned against regressive policies while highlighting the importance of the ACA for women’s health.
“We cannot afford to turn back the clock on women’s health by repealing the ACA,” Somani said. “When women have access to affordable and effective contraception unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortions drop dramatically. Do not let women go back to being ‘barefoot and pregnant.’”
Mindy Hedges, of Radnor, has benefited from being able to receive coverage despite her preexisting condition. “I have been told I am not insurable because I am a Type 1 Diabetic and have been for over 56 years,” Hedges said.
“The Affordable Care Act saved my life by helping me buy insurance with a preexisting condition and with reasonable expenditures. I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have this to fall back on after my business closed.”
Bill Wood of Westerville, said he has tried to get Tiberi to understand the value of the ACA in the past, but without success.
“Eight years ago, in 2009, when the Affordable Care Act was being debated in Washington, a dozen of us traveled to Rep. Tiberi’s office to ask for his support for a bill we knew would matter to us. For us, the Affordable Care Act isn’t a political or ideological issue. It’s something that is making a major difference in our lives.”
Amandalynn Reese, from Columbus, has used ACA coverage for her cancer treatment.
“After college, I was no longer covered by my parents’ health insurance. I was working at the time, and I was in the middle of an intense treatment plan for my leukemia. In the one year and eight months before I was eligible for insurance through the ACA, I was unable to be insured through work because of my condition. … Without it alone, I would have optimistically survived three months. Not only does the ACA make my costs less, but my preexisting condition is not a deal breaker anymore.”
Rep. Tiberi recently backed a bill that supports keeping protections for people with preexisting conditions. This is a concern that has been raised in the constituent meetings.
“We are taking a deliberate, step-by-step approach to deliver the quality, affordable health care reforms that Americans were promised years ago. I’ve heard from many Ohioans from across the 12th district in my constituent meetings who have expressed their support for protecting people with preexisting conditions. I’m listening to their concerns, and I agree,” Tiberi said in a news release this week.
“This provision was included in the health care priorities that Republicans unveiled last summer in our Better Way agenda. In addition, Chairman Walden’s bill, the Preexisting Conditions Protection Act, also has my full support,” Tiberi said.
Repealing the ACA before a new bill is ready could result in nearly one million Ohioans losing their health coverage, according to an Urban Institute study.