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AHCA protestors: Dying to meet Congressman Collins

Dozens of people were in a Lancaster park Thursday, protesting Congressman Chris Collins' vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

A series of progressive and political groups had planned what they called a die-in outside the Clarence Republican's district office in a private office park, but were not allowed. So the protest was moved to Walden Pond Park.

Amid grass and trees, protestors carried signs, chanted and beat on a drum to show their opposition to Republican plans to replace Obamacare with their own package, known as the American Health Care Act.

Among those telling of their health needs met by Obamacare was Stronger Together Executive Director Annie Krause, talking about what happened when her daughter Leto was hit by a car.

"She can stop a car with single look, except she didn't stop. She went 15 feet in the air, landed, broke her femur," Krause said. "She ended up having multiple surgeries, rod inserted into her femur to repair that break. She had multiple contusions and needed many, many stitches, many, many bandages."

Under the proposed new law, Krause said her daughter would have trouble getting medical care in the future because the auto injuries would be considered a pre-existing condition and that is not necessarily covered in the new law.

Ashley Barr said Obamacare provided coverage for her severely ill mother and provided for her addicted brother.

"Thousands of dollars spent trying to get my brother into evidence-based care, in and out of rehab," Barr said. "He was finally able to access medication-assisted treatment with the ACA that was paid for by Pennsylvania's Medicaid expansion. My brother, with that care, is able to work."

Planned Parenthood Regional Coordinator Sara Vernon said her agency provides important care in Collins' district.

"There are three Planned Parenthood health centers in the 27th Congressional District," Vernon said. "All of them, every single health center, is in a rural and medically-underserved community. That's Batavia that he's voting to take away care from. That's Canandaigua and that's Niagara County. One of five women in his district will one visit of those healthcare centers during the course of their lifetime."

The proposed law would effectively bar federal dollars to Planned Parenthood.

After the speeches, the protestors moved onto a grassy area, where the group members posed as dead people, while a speaker read a long list of medical problems that would no longer be covered under the replacement medical care legislation passed by the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate for action.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.