Protests in Appleton in response to Congress' health care vote

Posted at 10:54 PM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 23:54:37-04

Protesters gathered outside of Congressman Mike Gallagher's office in Appleton Thursday in response to the health care vote in congress.

Some of the people protesting have pre-existing conditions and wanted to tell their stories of the difficulty paying for insurance prior to the Affordable Care Act.

They said repealing and replacing would take health care away from millions of people, change coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, and impact those who rely on Badgercare.  

A Marion man who suffers from a chronic back injury says he's concerned about the lack of information he's received about a new bill.  

"It’s not fair to the American public to be doing this,” said Daniel Dillon of Marion.  “We need health care reform.  The Affordable Health Care Act is not perfect by any means but it does cover people like myself that otherwise could not get insurance."

Irene Strohbeen also said she is considered a person with pre-existing conditions because of genetic condition that affects her blood.

She is afraid if the Affordable Care act is repealed she won't be able to afford health insurance.  Thursday afternoon she participated and called on Congressman Gallagher to protect her and so many others like her in her situation. 

"I ask him to vote 'no' and I'm asking him to improve the ACA rather than continuing to defeat it," said Strohbeen. 

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson was also at the protest.  

"You're talking with everything from special education students, people with pre-existing conditions,” said Nelson.  “You know just here in North East Wisconsin about 300,000 people have pre-existing conditions. What’s going to happen to them?"

He said there are ways to improve the Affordable Care Act, like a nationwide senior care model.

Nelson said this bill is probably one of the most important bills directly affecting Outagamie County.

"In the first two years that we had the Affordable Care Act, we saw the uninsured rate of residents in Outagamie county fall by 50%,” said Nelson.  “Among our mental health clients in Outagamie county we saw the uninsured  rate fall by 70%, so that means that people, who are in need of care, who are in need of help, are getting help before they hurt themselves and others."

NBC26 also spoke with Congressman Glen Grothman.  Grothman said he voted “yes” to repeal the Affordable Care Act and come up with a replacement, to make insurance more affordable.  He said he voted with the majority.  NBC26 asked him about pre-existing conditions:

"We have said repeatedly in all our plans to take care of pre-existing conditions," said Grothman.  "Coverage will have to be offered under the insurers and there will also be a high risk pool which will help insures provide pre-existing coverage for pre-existing conditions on an affordable basis. "

Grothman said an "affordable basis" will vary from insurance company to insurance company, but those who voted to repeal felt the premiums will drop compared to now.

We reached out to Congressman Gallagher's office for comment, but did not hear back.

Protests were also planned in Wausau, Racine, and Eau Claire Thursday.