HIV Activists Arrested at Paul Ryan's Office, as Rally Lays Out Demands for President-Elect Trump and Republican-Controlled Congress
December 1, 2016
"When staffers won't commit to meeting with Ryan or halting budget, activists begin chanting, marching in a circle," reported Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade via Twitter. Johnson's next tweet explained he was being pushed out of the hallway by security, warning that he would be arrested unless he moved.
The rally drew activists from New York and Philadelphia, who joined local activists from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
What's at Stake?
Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Republicans have vowed to repeal it. The HIV treatment-friendly law provides more choices for health care coverage by expanding Medicaid, preventing insurance companies from dropping people because of pre-existing conditions and lowering the cost of health insurance, among other benefits. President-elect Trump has selected Representative Tom Price (R-GA), a man who has railed against the ACA since 2009, to be the head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Price, along with House Speaker Paul Ryan, claims to have a plan that will offer more health coverage choices, won't raise out-of-pocket costs and will strengthen Medicare. Critics chide that the plan lacks detail, turns Medicare into a coupon/voucher system and would ultimately drop 20-million people from health care coverage. They also say the GOP plan is skimpy on how it will tackle the high price of prescription drugs. Republicans traditionally favor the free market over government regulation, but without some monitoring "big pharma" can price their drugs however they please, advocates caution.
A Hopeful Alternative
To help alleviate short-term concerns, Congress could pass an omnibus bill to provide additional funding for programs provided by the Department of Labor as well as HHS. These departments support HIV services funded through the Ryan White Program, prevention efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Such an omnibus bill should also sustain funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which includes the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS program (HOPWA.)
One protester at today's rally, George Kerr III, is a community activist, president of D.C. Fights Back and CEO of GIII Associates. As a man who has lived with HIV for over 20 years, his reasons for joining the rally go beyond legislation. For Kerr, this fight is highly personal:
Candace Y.A. Montague is an award-winning freelance journalist. Her work has been featured in the Washington Post and on The Body.com and The Grio.com, among others. Follow her on Twitter @urbanbushwoman9.
JD Davids is the managing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com. Follow JD on Twitter: @JDAtTheBody.
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This article was provided by TheBody.
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