CAMPTON HILLS – The Campton Hills district office of U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, again was the center of protest Tuesday, but organizers called it a die-in, lying on the grass with cardboard tombstones and plastic skeletons to show their disdain for the American Health Care Act.
Hultgren was among the seven Illinois House Republicans who voted May 4 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The measure still needs to go to the Senate.
“Maintaining the status quo under a failing law is simply unacceptable,” Hultgren said in a statement after the vote. “I have had great concerns about this bill, and expressed those to Speaker [Paul] Ryan and [the] House leadership. But doing nothing isn’t an option, which is why I supported this amended bill as an important next step in the longer process of broader health reform that will benefit Illinois.”
In his statement, Hultgren said he would “ensure people with pre-existing conditions are protected.”
“Under the American Health Care Act, insurance companies can never deny someone coverage based on pre-existing conditions,” Hultgren said.
But not all of the protesters believed it.
Tara Turner of Batavia lay on a yoga mat next to a gruesome tableau of two headstones flanking a black rose and a skeleton. She was among about 50 people who turned out.
“I repurposed my Halloween decor,” Turner said. “We’ve written. We’ve called. We’ve tried to visit. But I guess a faked death on the front lawn of his office is the next logical step.”
Tamara and Mark Foehring of Geneva both had different tombstone messages.
Hers read, “RIP Medicaid patients including those in nursing homes.”
His read, “Rubber stamp Randy – Your constituents are dying to talk to you about your AHCA vote.”
“The Republican health care bill is immoral,” Tamara Foehring said. “It’s wrong. I think health care is a right, not a privilege. And I do really think people are going to die.”
Mark Foehring said he could not believe the U.S. doesn’t have a better health care system.
“We have great care, but our health insurance industry is this layer of profitability that is just ridiculous for us to be paying for,” he said.
Jean Nash lay on a plaid blanket holding up a cardboard tombstone that declared it was the AHCA family plot. It listed family members’ pre-existing conditions: hypertension, osteoarthritis, muscular dystrophy, congenital heart defect and congestive heart failure.
“I am concerned about the future of our health care,” said Nash, of Plainfield. “I have … two adult sons who have muscular dystrophy. … [They] are physically disabled [from muscular dystrophy], and I am their caregiver.”
Beth Guerrero’s tombstone simply said, “I need my health care, not excuses.”
“This really concerns me that they’re going to cut health care for poor people, for children, for people with pre-existing conditions, just so they can give a tax cut to … the rich,” said Guerrero, of Naperville. “To me, that’s immoral.”
Jerry Becker’s tombstone sign read, “Here lies affordable health care.”
“Rep. Hultgren didn’t like the first version of the health bill that didn’t pass,” said Becker, of Aurora. “And this one is worse by 100 times, and he votes for it. It’s just absolutely ridiculous. I’m old. I’m going to pay more. I have pre-existing conditions. … We are not going away, and he has to start listening to us.”
Winelle Glaser, formerly of Campton Hills, was not lying down for the die-in – she was still protesting.
“I’m here specifically to ensure that Randy Hultgren is not re-elected,” Glaser said. “He is a representative of the Republican Party, not the constituents. He needs to go.”
Robin Stephens of North Aurora also chose not to lay down, but held up a big sign that declared, “If Trumpcare kills me, mail my ashes to the GOP.”
“I just need to protest what happened,” Stephens said of the vote. “It was so utterly unexpected after the first defeat, that first bill they tried to pass, and Trump pulled it. This is beyond the pale. This version of this bill is worse than the first version. I think, honestly, it’s just a political ploy to make Trump look good.”
“Indivisible is getting overly dramatic,” Hultgren said in a statement regarding the die-in.
Indivisible is an organized resistance to President Donald Trump’s agenda.
“Let’s be clear: State Innovation Waivers were first put into law under the Affordable Care Act,” Hultgren said. “These waivers offer states the ability to implement innovative approaches to offer access to health care that is at least as affordable and comprehensive as would be provided without the waiver. ... Pre-existing conditions will be covered under the AHCA – a waiver state cannot opt to waive guaranteed issue. And like the ACA, proposed insurance will be offered at more affordable rates if you maintain continuous coverage under the AHCA.”
Hultgren spokesman Jameson Cunningham clarified what “guaranteed issue” means, stating in an email that it is “a term used in health insurance to describe a situation where a policy is offered to any eligible applicant without regard to health status. Thus, they can’t deny you coverage based on a pre-existing condition [or] health status.”
Hultgren also said in his statement that he was not aware of any discussion that Illinois lawmakers would apply for such a waiver.
“However, states know best how to address the needs of their citizens,” Hultgren said. “If the state of Indiana wants to apply for a waiver, the state of Illinois or any other states should not get in their way.”