During the live debate over the American Health Care Act, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee delivered a furious address in an attempt to make the bill’s supporters face the real human damage they might be about to cause.
Standing on the House floor next to an image of a woman lying ill in a hospital bed, Jackson Lee, a breast cancer survivor, tore into the House Republican health plan, which could gut coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions, like Jackson Lee, and leave millions uninsured.
“This heartless and callous bill, with 24 million plus people being thrown off of their health care and reverse Robin Hood of stealing from the poor or the seniors laying in their bed where you’re doing an age tax that is five times more than any other young person has to pay, that is disgraceful,” Jackson Lee admonished in her fiery address.
“I don’t want the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, to steal bread from the market because they don’t have any health insurance,” she continued.
If Jackson Lee’s words weren’t electrifying enough, the following speaker, Rep. Doug Collins, waved off her passionate condemnation with a sexist joke.
“If I had to defend Obamacare, I’d go into hysterics too,” the Georgia congressman said immediately after Jackson Lee finished speaking.
The responses were fast and furious.
There’s nothing “hysterical” about worrying that the AHCA will raise premiums for people with chronic or life-threatening illnesses by thousands — or in some cases, tens of thousands — of dollars.
That was the conclusion of the Center for American Progress, which estimates that a 40-year-old living with asthma could see a surcharge of over $4,000 under the plan, while that same 40-year-old battling cancer could be upcharged over $140,000.
One representative alone can’t stop the bill — but millions of Americans might be able to.
For those determined to see the bill pass, Jackson Lee had no advice — only ominous parting words.
“God have mercy on your souls.”
Update 5/4/17: The bill passed the House. Thankfully, it still has to make it through the Senate if it’s going to become law. If you don’t want to see that happen, now is a great time to get on the phone with your senator.