Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) is a multimillionaire insurance executive in a swing district. He revived the dead American Health Care Act (AHCA) by authoring an amendment that was instrumental in the AHCA passing the second time around.
For almost five hours he took a mixed bag of questions; listened to passionate monologues; and got jeered by the crowd in Willingboro. Willingboro is a town where he only received 12 percent of the vote in the last election.
During his opening remarks MacArthur wanted to talk about his special needs daughter who died at age 11. The cost of her medical care was more than $1 million.
“Shame! Shame on you!” a women yelled from the audience.
“I will say, shame on you,” MacArthur replied.
After much back and forth with the crowd she said, “We’ve heard this story.”
He pressed on with his story ignoring the jeers from the approximate 250 people who got into the town hall.
Outside and inside the MacArthur town hall pic.twitter.com/WcEBuxtKCF
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) May 10, 2017
“How did it pass your conscience to allow rape to become a pre-existing condition?” Joseph Zetkulich, 18, asked to loud and lengthy applauses from the audience. “Is rape considered a pre-existing condition under your amendment, yes or no?”
Zetkulich pointed out that MacArthur’s amendment forced women to pick between getting justice or getting healthcare. MacArthur took multiple attempts at dodging the “yes or no” request. Eventually the rancorous crowd joined Zetkulich in chanting “answer the question.”
After the exchange the congressman moved on.
“This is your health care bill,” one constituent told his congressman. “It was dead in the water and could have stayed dead in the water. It was done.”
The man continued, “This is your amendment, sir.” He explained that he had a heart condition. He laid out a scenario of losing his job and then not being able to afford insurance on the individual market because of a gap in his coverage and a pre-existing condition.
“Because of that MacArthur amendment, you brought it back from the dead, with that amendment.” He said, “It’s yours,” and “You own it.”
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) May 10, 2017
A bit later the mic was passed to Daisy Confoy, 17, who stated, “My friends and I came here because we feel the need … we are seriously concerned with ourselves and every one else around us. We are the future and we are going to vote.”
“Now, I’d like to go back to a question that my friend Joey asked you, which you neglected to answer. Is rape considered a preexisting condition under your amendment?
“Yes or no?” and she paused. When there was no reply she repeated, “Yes, or no?” Still no reply, “Yes or no? One word, please. One word, please.”
MacArthur finally said, “Folks, you get to ask the questions, and I get answer them.” Boos broke out in the room as MacArthur paced.
She then quoted a statistic that “one in five women will be a victim of a completed or attempted rape before their freshman year in college.” Again pressing him on how rape, as a pre-existing condition, was not discrimination against women.
He continued to stall. Convoy jumped in again, “My friends and I plan to continue to get involved. You will answer to us. You are our representative.”
The exchanged continued for some time with neither Zetkulich or Confoy getting their question answered. At the end of the exchanged, Confoy receiving a standing ovation.
From an Indivisible member inside MacArthur’s Town Hall pic.twitter.com/Il0CrwKK9j
— maura quint (@behindyourback) May 10, 2017
Later, Michael Maguire said his wife died two months ago from brain cancer and the bills totaled more than $1 million. He noted that most the bills were covered by insurance. Without that, he said, he would lose his home.
“I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” MacArthur said.
“You went through worse,” Maguire answered. “That’s why I can’t rationalize where you’re coming from.”
Voter at MacArthur town hall now describing how he lost his wife to brain cancer 2 months ago. “I know exactly what a risk pool is,” he says
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) May 11, 2017