Health care bus tour targets vulnerable California Republicans

State Sen. Kevin de Leon speaks on health care bus tour.

"We'll never forget the votes California Republicans have taken to rip away our health care," said state Sen. Kevin de Leon.

On the one-year anniversary of the House of Representatives voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), doctors and patients staged a bus tour to bring attention to health care issues in Southern California.

The bus tour visited three districts, currently held by Congressmen Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), and Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R-Irvine). All three voted to repeal the ACA, and voted in favor of a Republican alternate bill. And all three are facing tough challenges from Democrats this year.

The Republican bill would have led to 23 million people losing health care, and increased premiums for families across the United States. Despite the bill’s failure to pass the Senate, Republicans made significant changes to health care policies through the unpopular tax bill. Those changes, combined with changes made be the Trump administration, are causing premiums to skyrocket and millions of people to lose access to health care.

The bus tour made stops in Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, and Huntington Beach. Many of the participants in the bus tour noted lack of access to quality medical care as what caused them to get involved.

“Today I joined the SoCal Healthcare Coalition to remind our representatives in Washington that we’re watching and we’ll never forget the votes CA Republicans have taken to rip away our healthcare,” said state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).

“I want our communities to know that they deserve access to high-quality health care,” noted Evelyn Escobedo, a UCLA medical student on the bus tour.

The bus tour is part of a nationwide effort by groups to highlight the importance of health care, especially as it relates to the 2018 election. “I can’t think of a campaign, from the reddest of districts to the bluest of districts, that isn’t talking about health care repeal and what the administration’s sabotage would mean to the health care system,” said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist.

Charlie Kelly, executive director of the Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC, said Republican votes on health care reinforce a narrative of: “Wait a minute, these guys are absolutely not standing with working families. They’re trying to screw me on my health care.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) decried Republicans for their refusal to work in a bipartisan fashion. “Instead of working in a bipartisan fashion to update and improve the Affordable Care Act, Republicans used the GOP tax scam to drive up health premiums for families across America,” she said.

In California, Republican policies are helping to increase premiums by up to 30 percent next year. Nationwide, premiums are expected to increase by up to 94 percent in the next three years.

The bus tour was about more than just raising awareness. Tunnar Azario, a medical student on the bus tour, said he wants people to “go out and vote” for people who are seeking to expand access to health care.