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Central Ohio Officials Speak Out Against American Health Care Act

Adora Namigadde
Mount Carmel Health System Executive vice president Richard Streck speaking out against the Republican health care bill.

While the U.S. House of Representatives delays a vote on the American Health Care Act originally scheduled for Thursday evening, government and healthcare officials from Central Ohio spoke out against the bill at a forum at Columbus' Reeb Avenue Center.

If passed, the American Health Care Act would replace President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Columbus city officials, including Mayor Andrew Ginther, voiced their concerns about the proposed healthcare legislation on Thursday afternoon.

“The American Health Care Act is not right for Central Ohio,” Ginther said. “If Congress votes to approve the legislation tonight, the progress we have made could be reversed.”

City Council president Zack Klein, Franklin County Board of Commissioners president John O’Grady and Mount Carmel Health System Executive Vice President Richard Streck also spoke against the bill.

In a survey by NPR and its member stations, just four of Ohio's 12 Republican representatives responded to say they're in support of the proposal.

That includes Congressman Pat Tiberi, who represents Ohio’s 12th district bordering Franklin County. In a press release, he said the American Health Care Act gives people better access to affordable coverage.

“It contains specific reforms to provide relief from Obamacare’s taxes and mandates, and gives patients the tools they need to be in charge of their own care, like increased access to health savings accounts and tax credits to help individuals and families purchase the care they need,” Tiberi said.

At Thursday's forum, Mount Carmel Health System vice president Richard Streck said passing the American Health Care Act would undo work by the Kasich administration to ensure more Ohioans have insurance. Governor Kasich himself has come out against the proposal to roll back Medicaid expansion, under which 700,000 Ohioans are covered.

“By expanding coverage, you expand access to care," Streck said. "By expanding access to care, patients can access our healthcare system at an earlier stage of their disease."