Bilirakis Ignores A Constituent Listens To A Constituent (via YouTube)
Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis hosted a "listening session" Saturday to give his constituents a chance to share their concerns about his party's plan to repeal Obamacare absent a replacement, but their pleas to keep the ACA in place fell on his deaf ears.
After spending more than two hours listening to requests like "Please don't let me die" from a man who voted for him, Bilirakis was unmoved, vowing to go ahead with plans to end the ACA. He said this to reporters after the session was over, in spite of telling his voters face to face that "I wouldn't be a good representative if I didn't hear you out."
While his constituents came armed with facts, Bilirakis came armed with the same old smoke and mirrors talking points his party has used for years in an effort to poison the public well against ACA. Unfortunately, as predicted, those well worn talking points have bumped into reality: Obamacare is now popular (Florida broke signup records) and saving lives. Those who are now insured because of it have a lot to lose if Republicans take it away, and Bilirakis' voters shared those concerns with him.
There was John Ford, 66, who was once denied coverage for his hip because he had previously had the joint replaced. And Christine Mendonca, 34, who worried that without Obamacare, she could no longer afford to get pregnant.
Evan Thornton, 21, fought back tears describing the congenital heart condition that could cut his life short. The Affordable Care Act allowed him to have coverage under his parents' plan into his 20s, he said.
"I'm an independent who voted for you," he told Bilirakis. "Please don't take my life away. Please don't let me die."
"Oddly" enough, only three people among the crowd shared the Bilirakis-GOP anti-Obamacare line, one being a Bilirakis employee.
What a coincidence.
Bilirakis easily won his sixth term last year in a safe seat he inherited from his daddy, and Pinellas County where he held this "listening session," voted for Trump. So he may well think he can afford to ignore his constituents booing his empty repeal and replace talk and rip away their health care without any blowback, because that's how things have always worked for him.
But Bilirakis may want to listen a little more closely to those boos, because voters are tired of the same old lines from Republicans, as we've seen in the weeks since Trump was elected and Bilirakis and his party have begun an overreach of historic proportions.
Bilirakis and Republicans are making decisions that have real life consequences for their voters, and people WILL die if they repeal the ACA. Remember, in spite of what they say, Republicans have no replacement in the works. None. Zip.
Bilirakis will be holding another "Health Care Reform Listening Session" on February 11 in Pasco County.
It will be interesting to see if his hearing has improved any by then.