Hundreds of protesters crowded the sidewalk outside a Willingboro community center Wednesday night, hours before U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was set to host his first town hall meeting since the House passed the American Health Care Act last week.
The South Jersey Republican’s amendment was instrumental in propelling the bill forward.
MacArthur’s provision allowed states to avoid covering the “essential health benefits” guaranteed under Obamacare. It also let insurance companies charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions in certain circumstances.
“It seems like they’re kind of hell-bent on repealing Obamacare despite what the constituents say,” said Whiting resident Robert Clark, who was waiting in line to enter the town hall. “Tom MacArthur is a millionaire. He doesn’t care about little people. He doesn’t care about people who can’t afford coverage.”
The mood outside the public event was hostile toward the two-term Congressman. Speeches by local activists were punctuated with chants from the crowd of “Tom MacArthur, rich and rude! We don’t like your attitude!”
Inside, it was much the same. MacArthur barely began speaking before audience members in the crowd of roughly 300 people shouted him down.
During nearly five hours of questioning by constituents, MacArthur weighed in on the recent firing of FBI director James Comey and whether he would force President Trump to release his tax returns (he would not).
But the conversation kept coming back to health care, with MacArthur telling a skeptical crowd that his amendment was intended to give more people — not fewer — insurance coverage.
“You can disagree,” he told the crowd, “but I am trying to do what I can to save a health insurance market that is collapsing.”
That was little consolation to Cinnaminson resident Tami Bobrin, who has cancer and worries what a loss in coverage would mean for her family.
“My chemotherapy costs $43,000 a week. I don’t have $43,000 a week,” she said. “If I lose my coverage, I’m gonna die.”