Athens and campus officials presented arguments against the American Health Care Act at the Athens County Courthouse on Thursday.
Keller Blackburn, the Athens County prosecutor, spoke about how he believes the legislation proposed by U.S. House Republicans will be detrimental to Athens residents facing addiction problems.
“We can either have productive members of society and recognize that addiction is a disease… or we can defund Medicaid to give tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent,” Blackburn said.
Former head of the Athens County Welfare Department Jack Frech discussed how the uninsured, a demographic who he said already faced cuts in assistance and food stamps, might struggle under this proposed legislation.
“Any cuts in those programs will not only cut the essential services for people in our community, particularly poor people, but it also hurts the infrastructure,” he said.
Sam Miller, president of Ohio University College Democrats, spoke about how AHCA may prevent a loss of resources to facilities like OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital and Planned Parenthood health centers.
“The American Health Care Act would result in deep funding cuts for hospitals which are often the hub for health care options in small towns like Athens,” Miller said. “I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have these resources readily available to those of need. It is truly our duty to assist our families, friends and neighbors live their best life. Local hospitals make that happen.”
On the impact of the speech, Frech said, “I think that every time we get a chance to talk to each other about this, it just raises the awareness, and I think it strengthens the resolve from everybody involved to speak up.”