A group of more than 50 protesters marched around the Grayson County Courthouse Thursday afternoon with a message directed at U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe to pass on to Congress — a message not to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“What brought us here today is trying to do something that shows those people who are in Congress and in the Senate, who represent us, that we have a voice,” Lynette Boston, a 64-year-old Denison resident who marched, said. “And that we are very concerned about the Affordable Care Act and how many people will lose health care, especially the seniors and probably the younger people.”
The marchers shouted chants such as “ACA don’t take it away” and “Love not hate makes America great.” The protest, which lasted for two hours, was organized by the Grayson County Democratic Party, however other groups also took part. Debbie Burns, a 60-year-old Denison resident who identified herself as a lifelong Republican, took part in the protest and said while the main topic was the Affordable Care Act, the event also served to send a message to Ratcliffe that he needs to meet with his constituents.
“I think it’s too entrenched in our health care system to just do away with it,” Burns said of the ACA. “They can make some changes to it, but there’s too many guarantees.”
While members of Congress are on a week long recess this week, many across the country are holding town hall meetings. Ratcliffe has not scheduled any for the first three months of this year. A spokesperson for Ratcliffe told the Herald Democrat last week that the congressman has been busy in Washington recently, but he will remain engaged with his district. The spokesperson noted Ratcliffe has made recent local appearances.
Rachel Stephens, a spokesperson for Ratcliffe, said in an emailed statement in response to the protest that Ratcliffe appreciates hearing from all his constituents.
“He’s been very clear about his position against Obamacare since he first ran for Congress,” Stephens said. “Since then, he’s voted for legislation to repeal and dismantle Obamacare multiple times. He recently gave the weekly Republican address about the failures of Obamacare. His position on this issue has been well documented, and he stands by it.”
Barb Rush, 73, of Whitesboro, is the co-chair of the Grayson County Democratic Party, and she said repealing the ACA could eliminate insurance for more than 17,000 people in District 4.
“I wonder if he knows what it’s like to not be able to go to the doctor when you’re sick or to watch your child suffering because you don’t have the money to get medical help,” Rush said referring to Ratcliffe. “A lot of people wind up in the emergency room, and that costs a lot more money — taxpayer dollars — than subsidizing health insurance premiums for poor people.”
While recognizing the protesters’ right to march, Grayson County Republican Party Chairman Reggie Smith said he does not agree with the premise of the march.
“As to the repeal of Obamacare — that law is incredibly expensive and destructive to millions and millions of Americans who are forced to pay higher premiums for their insurance than what was originally represented by the Obama administration,” Smith said.
Smith also spoke up for Ratcliffe and said he is serving his district well, and will take into consideration the needs of his constituents.
“He is a thoughtful, caring individual who has a tremendous amount of responsibility to all the citizens of his district,” Smith said. “I’m sure he will take into consideration their needs and represent them in front of Congress.”
Kathy McGreevy, a 64-year-old Sherman resident who marched Thursday, said the ACA can’t just be taken away, but it needs to be fixed. She said Republicans have had many opportunities to come up with a plan to fix it, but a definitive plan has yet to emerge. She recommended that more people need to walk in the shoes of the people that rely on the ACA for health care.
“I think it’s a countrywide need that we need to take care of those people that can’t help themselves,” McGreevy said. “Most us don’t need affordable care here, but we need to be the voice of the people that do. The people in Congress don’t have any clue what it’s like not to have it. They have enough money to take care of themselves, but people in our communities don’t.”