Berthie Ruoff and hundreds of other constituents worried about losing their health insurance showed up to meet with Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) at the Aurora Central Library this Saturday. They were hoping to learn more about how the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act would affect them and their families. For many, like Mrs. Ruoff, the effects will be drastic. “My husband passed away and the only way I was able to get insurance was through the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare,” she said as hundreds of people gathered at the library.
However, Mrs. Ruoff, along with hundreds of fellow Coloradans, would not be able to meet with Rep. Coffman that day. Rather than address the crowd in town-hall style, which would of course have exposed the Congressman to the ire of the constituents he is intentionally defrauding, he chose to meet with only four people at a time for five minutes each. Thus of the hundreds gathered to voice their grievances, only seventy were able to actually meet with the Congressman, and for very little time at that.
Another woman at the event, Krondia Siebert, said that she just wanted to voice her concerns. Instead, she ended up organizing the crowd at the library as they chanted and sung in protest. “The Representative didn’t have a plan. They expected just a small handful of people to show up,” Siebert said. “We were under the understanding it was a town hall meeting and they were only allowing four people in at a time.”
Worse, Coffman, overwhelmed by the flood of angry constituents, arranged with the Aurora Police Department to secretly slip out of the library more than six minutes before the meeting was scheduled to end. “We were told at one point everyone would get their time and then he sneaks out six minutes early. I think he couldn’t handle it,” said Aurora resident Stephanie Brook.
Ben Stein, Coffman’s chief of staff, released a statement apologizing for the incident and claiming that the allotted 90 minutes was “usually enough time to see everyone.” For the hundreds of frightened men and women unsure what to expect from losing their health insurance, however, that apology must fall quite flat. “I am potentially going to lose my health insurance. I’ve had a preexisting condition. I’ve had breast cancer. What’s going to happen to me?” Ruoff said. “My spouse who had health insurance passed away. What do I do? You know, what am I supposed to do?”
That question, “what am I supposed to do,” is echoing from the voices of millions of Americans across the country but is falling on willfully deaf ears on Capitol Hill. Coffman’s shameful sneak exit and dismissal of his constituents is only the most literal example of a tremendous Republican disregard for the public good that is playing out across the country as Trump’s lackeys in Congress gear up to repeal Obamacare with no working alternative.
The devastating effects of repealing Obamacare are undeniable: as many as 24 million Americans will lose health insurance, another 30 million will be at risk of being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and the average annual out-of-pocket cost of health insurance will shoot up by some $1,500. Tens of thousands of people will literally die unnecessarily just so rich Republicans and their millionaire cronies can lower their already deflated tax bills. If the GOP continues down the road to Obamacare repeal – which they almost certainly will – they can expect the anger that played out in Aurora on Saturday to be repeated across the country on a massive scale.
Watch a news report on the incident HERE:
— Nelson Garcia (@9NewsEducation) January 14, 2017
James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.