BEND, Ore. - About 15 to 20 protesters upset over efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act lined up on the snowy driveway to a northeast Bend pharmaceutical firm Monday morning as Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., made the first in a series of stops around the region.
The protesters from two local groups, Action Together Oregon and Democracy Happens, chanted "Stop repeal!" and carried picket signs with messages such as "Don't Take My Care" and "Humans Before Corporations" as Walden's car pulled into Pantheon Pharmaceuticals on Northeast 18th Street.
"Access to health care is a moral imperative," Amber Keyser said in an email advising of the protest. "Walden’s actions will leave many in our state and across the nation vulnerable, both physically and economically. Repealing the ACA without a viable plan for replacement with improvements does not protect our citizens. We expect more from Mr. Walden."
The Affordable Care Act has been a hot-button issue in recent months as President-elect Donald Trump and top Republican lawmakers promised and now have begun legislative action to repeal and replace it. Oregon's Democrat lawmakers, among others, vow to fight anything that will reduce coverage gained by many.
Trump told the Washington Post over the weekend he will implement a simpler, cheaper option that still will provide "insurance for all."
While the president and Republican leaders say their plan will continue coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, that does little to ease the concerns of protesters at Monday's event, including one diagnosed with leukemia last June.
He told NewsChannel 21 he does not know how he will afford care if the ACA is repealed, due to his current medical status.
Walden was at Pantheon for a tour of the facility and to talk with company officials about federal issues affecting the pharmaceutical industry.
Most of the protesters said they plan to follow Walden throughout Central Oregon as he makes several stops, including the Bend Band of Brothers at Jake's Diner, then visits with Prineville and Madras community leaders.
NewsChannel 21's A.J. Kato will cover the rest of his visit and speak with the congressman for a report coming up on Fox @ 4 and KTVZ at 5 and 6.
In the meantime, we want to know: Do you want the new president and Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? It's the topic of our new KTVZ.COM Poll, which you can find halfway down the right side of our home page.