TOMS RIVER – The sounds of protest songs with slightly altered lyrics served as the rallying cry against proposed healthcare repeal legislation in front of Toms River Town Hall on June 29.
Priscilla Robinson of the New Jersey Organizing Project and speakers from Ocean County Family Planning, National Organization of Women, Citizens Action of NJ and the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council came out, along with members of the Solidarity Singers to get their message across.
Their message: opposition to current plans to modify the Affordable Care Act.
Priscilla Robinson of the New Jersey Organizing Project, left, speaks about concerns regarding current pending legislation that would modify healthcare coverage, while Waretown resident Karla Ivarson, a member of the Solidarity Singers, holds a banner during a rally in front of Toms River Town Hall.
Part of the afternoon protest took aim at 3rd District Republican Congressman Tom MacArthur, who they urged to vote no when the bill gets back to the House of Representatives. Robinson and each of the speakers present asked constituents of Rep. MacArthur to contact him and request he cast a negative vote.
In April, Rep. MacArthur revived the Healthcare Repeal bill by introducing a series of amendments. Since then, the bill was introduced in the Senate and the Senate Majority Leader hoped to vote on it prior to the July 4 recess. That vote was postponed and opponents of the Republican plan have expressed concerns about the impact of what is being proposed.
“Forty percent of Ocean County residents are working poor. In Atlantic County it is nearly 50 percent and Monmouth County it is 30 percent. We need to protect essential health benefits and community health ratings. We need to protect Medicaid expansion because everyone deserves access to health care and the services we need to stay healthy,” Robinson said.
“I want to speak about the negative aspect of this on women and girls and their families. Even the President described the House version as mean. I’d describe it as mean and sneaky. In this legislation there is a provision that denies any federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year. Now you know that if they can get away with it for one year it will become an annual event,” Lynda Fote of Ocean County NOW said.
Kathy Fisher from Family Planning said, “Many women in Ocean County who receive health care at a Family Planning Center is the only care they receive.” She added that Family Planning provides educational services aimed at youth concerning reproductive health. “The whole purpose of a Family Planning program is to keep women healthy, offer preventative health care and to make sure that when a woman becomes pregnant it is an intended pregnancy not an unintended pregnancy.”
Lynda Fote of Ocean County NOW speaks during a healthcare rally in downtown Toms River. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)“We are here to take a stand for healthcare not wealth care. Unfortunately, Congress has a different idea. They are not voting in the Senate this week but we know that the fight is not over,” Carol Gay of the NJ State Industrial Union Council said.
A statement from Congressman MacArthur’s office on June 29 noted that, “Obamacare is failing and if Congress does not act, millions of people will suffer. Congressman MacArthur supports a fiscally responsible bill which lowers premiums, increases Medicaid spending, and provides a safety net for the most vulnerable. He believes the status quo is unacceptable since it does not address how to adequately insure the 28 million Americans, who currently receive no health insurance. While others continue to engage in smear tactics and fear-mongering, Congressman MacArthur will continue to focus on solutions to the big issues facing our nation.”