Healthcare is and always has been a hot-button issue in the United States, but with many Republicans eager to repeal the Affordable Care Act introduced by President Obama in 2010, the current situation is especially tense. Many citizens worry that whatever might replace the ACA won't adequately meet their needs, and for thousands, the concern is justified.
Take, for example, 51-year-old Nevada resident Vivian Leal, who took Senator Dean Heller to task during a town hall on April 17. Leal, who suffers from multiple sclerosis simply wanted to know if the Republican senator, who hesitated to reject the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, planned to oppose any legislation that revokes Obamacare's protections for those with pre-existing conditions and directs those people into high-risk insurance pools.
When he tried to supply her with an array of "fuzzy" responses instead of answering the question directly, things got tense.
She didn't give up.
"So you will not support anything putting us in high-risk pools?" she asked. "That's my question. Please answer it."
If Leal and others with pre-existing conditions are placed into high-risk pools (which are very often part of the revised healthcare plans many Republican lawmakers support), they will be forced to pay higher premiums, while those without pre-existing conditions will pay significantly less.
For context, health insurance typically works by spreading the high cost of health care across as big of a pool as possible, some higher-risk and some lower-risk. The bigger and more diverse the pool, the smaller the burden on most of the individuals within it — or so many experts believe.
When Heller still tried to evade Leal's question, the audience began to angrily chant, "Yes or no."
Eventually, thanks to the crowd's persistence, the senator gave his response. "I will support high-risk pools because there are some people who want them," he said. Not surprisingly, he was met with a chorus of boos and only a smattering of applause from the audience.
Speaking to Upworthy, Leal asks, "Who are we when we just huddle all our sick into one pool and make them pay higher penalties for being sick beyond their illness?"
Yes, Obamacare is imperfect and controversial, but there's no denying it's given thousands of people access to healthcare who wouldn't have otherwise had it. At a town hall back in 2014, one woman proved that point when she asked everyone in the room helped by Obamacare to stand and almost all of the over 1,000 people present rose to their feet.
And, unfortunately, healthcare is just one of many issues that have recently pinned Republican lawmakers against concerned constituents. In Arizona last week, a 16-year-old girl named Deja Foxx schooled Republican Senator Jeff Flake on the importance of Planned Parenthood, which stands to lose federal Title X family planning money if President Trump and the majority of Senate Republicans get their way.
"I'm wondering, as a Planned Parenthood patient and someone who relies on Title X, who you are clearly not, why is it your right to take away my right...?" Deja asked as the audience cheered.