Scott Co., VA residents make paper chain link to send to Cong. Griffith

GATE CITY, VA (WJHL-TV) – A protest, of sorts, was held in Gate City, Va., on Monday to raise awareness about the possible implications if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

Around a dozen people were set up under two tents in front of the Scott Co., Va., Courthouse trying to make sure that 9th District Congressman Morgan Griffith got their message expressing concerns over the possible passage of a new GOP health care bill. Participants created a paper chain link for each child and older citizen in Southwest Virginia who they say will lose health care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

“Today we’re out making paper chain links to demonstrate visually how many people in Scott County will be losing their health insurance if the GOP plan is passed,” said We Care member Peggy Mathews. “Research finds that 3,300 people, mostly seniors and children, will be off of health insurance in Scott County alone, so we’re making a paper chain with 3,300 links long.”

That chain will be taken to Radford, Va., for an event on Sunday where it will be added to a chain that will end up containing 62,000 links, demonstrating the 62,000 in the 9th district that protesters say will be losing their health care coverage if Republican legislation is passed. That chain will be given to Griffith, who voted for the GOP healthcare plan. The Senate is considering a healthcare overhaul bill that would replace the ACA, also called Obamacare.

Mathews added, “The goal is to make Congressman Griffith very aware that there are constituents, many constituents, in his district that are concerned about the effects, how this health care insurance bill, will affect them.  And that he needs to think about all of us, not just the few that he has been paying attention to. He needs to pay attention to all his constituents.”

Griffith said by phone Monday he was aware of the protest and that while everyone is entitled to an opinion, some of the information about the replacement for the ACA was inaccurate.

“I understand their concerns,” Griffith said. “If you look deeply into the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) reports instead of just taking national talking points from Indivisible, you can see that a big part of the people, at least a majority of the language CBO used, who may not have insurance on the new plan will do so because they’re not forced by the government to buy the insurance and they make a decision on their own not to buy the insurance. People forget that 10 million people have made that choice under Obamacare.”

Griffith said he spent much of the 4th of July holiday talking to people on the street about the health care plan, everyone from professionals to those who said they couldn’t afford their health care because of high deductibles.

Griffith added, “Is it possible that some may choose not to get coverage? That is a possibility, but it wouldn’t be as high as 62,000 in the 9th District, I wouldn’t think. Plus, huge numbers, tens of thousands who currently have a piece of paper saying they have insurance, will have the ability to actually have insurance that means something more than just catastrophic insurance.”

Organizers of the protest are hoping to get their point across to Griffith, but also to make residents take a closer look at how this bill might affect their health insurance coverage.

“This is a fun event, and it’s a concrete way people can make a statement to our congressman that this bill is really gonna hurt people living right here in Scott Co. and in the whole 9th District,” Mathews said. “People are scared, and this is one way they can do something, talk to people that have the same concerns, and start to feel better that they’re at least being part of the democratic process, which is to show your congressman how you feel about any votes that he has made.”

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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