Second-District Representative Bruce Poliquin has mostly been avoiding public appearances in Maine following his vote in favor of the Republican health care repeal bill last month, but several dozen of his constituents managed to find him in Massachusetts on Monday, where he was giving a speech to a regional business lobby.
Holding signs reading “I drove here from Maine” and “Hands off of my health care,” carloads of Mainers, some of whom traveled up to six hours to join the picket, stood outside the Hampshire House in Boston and castigated Poliquin for his vote and his failure to engage with his constituents on health care.
“Every day I see the tough choices people have to make to ensure that they can afford medical care. People shouldn’t have to decide whether or not to have lifesaving treatments because of cost. The Affordable Care Act is something that is in place to help these people,” said Tim Conmee, a nurse from Orrington.
“Those who depend on the many different hospitals we have out in rural Maine will be deeply hurt by this bill. Representative Poliquin would know that these bills have the potential to hurt Mainers if he actually met with his constituents at home in his district, instead of big business groups way down here in Boston.”
After weeks of refusing to publicly state a position, Rep. Poliquin joined his Republican colleagues last month in voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, make deep cuts to Medicaid and give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to high-income earners.
An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the bill would increase the number of uninsured by 23 million and dramatically increase premiums for thousands of older residents in the Second District. It would also roll back protections for individuals with preexisting conditions.
The Center for American Progress estimates that more than 100,000 Mainers could be without coverage by 2026 if the bill Rep. Poliquin supports becomes law.
“For my family – and many families in Maine – Medicaid is our safety net,” said Melissa Stevens, who made the trip from Lewiston. “Representative Poliquin voted for significant cuts to Medicaid, endangering the health care of single moms, people with disabilities and children. I’m here in Boston today because he’s here instead of doing his job and fighting for the people he represents in Maine’s second district. I shouldn’t have to travel 130 miles to remind my representative that he represents me.”
Next steps on the health care repeal will take place in the Senate, where Republican lawmakers continue to work on their version of the bill.
Cross-posted from the Maine Beacon