California Sen. Kamala Harris toured the state Monday, rallying supporters against the Republican-backed health care plan in the Senate as she searched for stories to highlight when debate over the bill returns to Congress next week.
After speaking at a citizenship ceremony in Los Angeles, Harris held a rally at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance to oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act currently in Senate. She then flew to San Francisco to meet with seniors at the Institute on Aging.
Harris said she heard stories all day “from people who want to live with dignity, who want to work hard, but they want to afford to be able to pay for their asthma medication and also keep their home."
"Without coverage, they can't do both," she said.
The event in San Francisco focused on the impact the Senate bill would have on Californians who receive care through Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program for the poor and disabled. The Senate proposal would reduce federal payments to Medicaid, leaving states on the hook for more of the cost.
Last week, the State Department of Health Care Services estimated that the Senate plan would shift $30.3 billion of Medi-Cal costs to California over the next decade.
Harris attended a roundtable of patients and providers, who emphasized that Medi-Cal covers critical services that older Californians can't get through Medicare, the health care program for the elderly.
"Home care is the most striking example," said Jeff Wilkins, a social worker at the Institute. "Medicare does not pay for home care."
The most memorable exchanges of the afternoon came from the handful of seniors who spoke with Harris as she toured the Institute.
Huiquing Chen told the senator through an interpreter that the biggest difference between the current Affordable Care Act, and the Republican plans in the House and Senate, is the lack of the word 'affordable.'
"We're getting old, which is becoming a pre-existing condition," Chen quipped.
Clem McCoy, 83, chatted up Harris on a different topic.
"Y'all need to get the president up out of there!" he said.
"One day at a time," Harris replied.
— Guy Marzorati (@GuyMarzorati) July 3, 2017
The Republican plan in the Senate stalled over the July 4 holiday, with at least nine senators opposing the bill. In response, President Trump has expressed some support for repealing the legislation without a replacement plan in place.
“I’m frankly not clear on what their strategy is," Harris said in response to that idea. "Over 30 million Americans, if it is repealed, will lose their coverage."