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Cancer patient confronts Issa: I can't afford my treatment under GOP plan

Republican lawmakers may find it easy to make glib suggestions to cancer patients about health care on cable news, but it is quite another thing to face those same constituents in person. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) found that out over the weekend when he was confronted by a cancer patient, who told him that she […]

By Tommy Christopher - March 12, 2017
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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) found that out over the weekend when he was confronted by a cancer patient, who told him that she and her doctor looked at the GOP repeal plan and discovered it would place the cost of her treatments well out of reach.

She asked Issa a simple question — one that every Republican should be prepared to answer in the coming days: Will he support that plan or not?

CONSTITUENT: I just sat down, as a cancer survivor and currently going through cancer treatment, with my doctor, and these are the things that I am faced with. The current plan that you are going to be passing — I have preexisting conditions which will put me in a pool of high risk; I am also in my sixties, do not qualify for social security — so, therefore I also go into the pool that the Affordable Care Act would have kept me at a lower rate. Your plan is five times more than the three times that the Affordable Care Act was. I ask you, sir, my treatment is like half a million dollars a year. I can’t afford that, I can’t afford not to have insurance, insurance for me will be sixty, seventy thousand dollars a year.

I don’t want to hear about your plan, because your plan would benefit Californians. I want to hear what you’re going to do about the plan that’s being proposed by Ryan. Because sir, the bottom line is —

ISSA: (interrupts) You can follow up, but let me just break in…

Issa then proceeded to talk about the exact thing she told him she did not want to hear, and did not say whether he would vote for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) bill. Issa’s off-topic full answer did little to reassure his constituent, who tried her best to focus him with her follow-up question. But he not only refused to give a straight answer, he even cracked wise about the very idea of giving a straight answer:

CONSTITUENT: How are you going to vote on Ryan’s plan?

ISSA: No, now I — look, I’ve read “indivisible,” I understand you’re asking for “yes” or “no.” The current — ma’am, the current bill is not in a form that I approve of. I am trying to change it. But ultimately, the Affordable Care Act has problems that have to be fixed. So my intention is to keep working on the fixes.

In the world of cable news and the cloistered White House briefing room, Republicans can talk in circles to their heart’s content. But constituents, who overwhelmingly support retaining and expanding Obamacare, indeed want to hear a “yes” or “no” on whether their elected representatives support this unpopular repeal plan.

Democrats, and even a few Republicans, are already saying no, and this kind of pressure from the public bodes well for resistance to this plan. And if more Republicans do not find their way to “no” on this repeal plan, they may find themselves out of a job in the near future.


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