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HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL

50 protest GOP health insurance proposal

Rally outside Sen. Portman’s Toledo office

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    Bev Bingle is among the protesters at the corner of North Superior Street and Madison Avenue in downtown Toledo. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has a local office on Madison.

    THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
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  • CTY-RALLY23-Joan-Van-Gunten-and-Kathy-Berry

    Joan Van Gunten of Maumee, left, and Kathy Berry of Toledo, join others during a rally at the corner of North Superior Street and Madison.

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  • CTY-RALLY23-Sandra-Frank

    Sandra Frank of Toledo, holds a sign during a rally outside Sen. Rob Portman's Toledo office.

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About 50 people gathered in downtown Toledo on Thursday to protest the proposed American Health Care Act.

They rallied outside the office of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) at 420 Madison Ave. after Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives delayed their planned vote earlier in the day on their party’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“The reason I came down here is because health care is a right, not a privilege ... like when you have to have a lot of money to get any kind of health coverage,” said Bob Lynn, Jr., 56, of Oregon, a member of the Toledo-area Jobs With Justice.

Dan Rutt, 55, of Toledo, stood next to him and agreed by saying he believed “Americans would be best served in their health care if we were all in the same boat.”

“That could be either Medicare for All, or — if you want a premium plan — we could all have the same benefits as Congress members,” Mr. Rutt said.

Protesters carried posters bearing slogans such as “Healthcare for All,” “Trumpcare: a Transfer of Money from the Poor to the Rich,” “Trump: Death to the Poor and Elderly,” and “Time to Join Single-Payer Countries” as passing drivers leaned on car horns to declare support.

“Today is the chance to find our voice,” Dennis Slotnick, Northwest Ohio regional coordinator for Single Payer Action Network of Ohio, told the protesters using a bullhorn. “Today is the chance to express our dissatisfaction with the gap between what the people need and what the government is telling us we need to do.”

That gap, he said, “has expressed itself in a health care plan that has been debated by the Republican party, debated by the House of Representatives. [It] does not serve the will of the people in terms of covering everyone’s health care needs, in fact showing to be very expensive and perhaps much more expensive than what we already have.”

The 90-minute rally was sponsored by Mr. Slotnick’s group, which bills itself as “a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals in Ohio seeking fundamental health care reform in our state and country so that every resident is guaranteed full and comprehensive coverage.”

This goal includes the full range of medical services, hospitalization, prescriptions, vision care, dental care, mental health care, home care, long-term care, and care for all injuries and illnesses, according to the organization’s website.

Mr. Slotnick also called on the protesters to sign a petition to Senator Portman, which he said was to be hand-delivered to the senator today.

“I support the enactment of legislation to create an expanded and improved Medicare for All, making the health care system both fair and economically sustainable,” the petition read in part.

Mr. Slotnick said the group, which held the rally in Toledo, had previously held a town hall meeting on the health care issue last month in Bowling Green.

“I appreciate the engagement of my constituents,” Senator Portman said in a statement emailed to The Blade. “The status quo is unsustainable because the Affordable Care Act isn’t affordable for thousands of Ohio families and small businesses that are facing skyrocketing premiums.

 ‘‘... I will continue my work to ensure that any replacement legislation provides access to quality health coverage, especially for opioid [addiction] treatment.”

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade.com, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.

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