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Ohioans raise concerns about GOP health care bill

Ohioans protested Rep. Steve Stivers' vote on the American Health Care Act on Thursday outside his Hilliard office. (WSYX/WTTE)
Ohioans protested Rep. Steve Stivers' vote on the American Health Care Act on Thursday outside his Hilliard office. (WSYX/WTTE)
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Some Ohioans worried what will happen to their health insurance after Republicans in Washington voted to reform healthcare.

Protests popped up in front of both Rep. Pat Tiberi and Rep. Steve Stivers offices. Protesters hoped they could convince them to vote against the Republican plan. Both representatives voted for it.

Critics pointed out the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office hadn't figured out how much the bill would cost or how many people would be covered.

"The problem is I have no idea (what this will do to my insurance)," said Kay Barker, a small business owner who buys her family's insurance through an exchange set up by the Affordable Care Act. "No one has any idea what this is going to do. I do know the ACA has helped us immeasurably and it is affordable."

Barker was one of roughly 40 people protesting in Hilliard outside Rep. Stivers' office.

"The frustration is huge," she said. "I just don't understand, well I do understand why they're rushing it through. It's because they don't care what's in the bill. They just want to be able to say they've done something."

Healthcare groups also said they had concerns about the latest proposal.

"Unfortunately what this did was take it from bad to worse or from worse to worst," said Steve Wagner who runs the non-partisan healthcare advocacy group UHCAN Ohio. "There is just not the funding that's there that would make this affordable for most people that have pre-existing conditions."

He said people with pre-existing conditions will still have access to health insurance through "high risk pools". Wagner said that was tried before Obamacare and was often expensive for patients.

"Everyone will have 'access' (to health insurance)," he said. "Well that means, sure I can go in to a jewelry store. That doesn't mean I can afford to buy everything there or even anything and that's what's going on here."

Supporters of the Republican plan said this is just the first step.

"Something had to be done," said Michael Gonidakis, who worked on the Trump campaign. "What the president campaigned on and Republicans campaigned on for so long was to repeal and replace. It's not going to happen overnight. What Republicans said is, 'here's Step 1. We'll have Phase 2 and Phase 3 later but this is just the first step in getting it done' because what they don't want to do is an all of nothing approach because that's what we saw with Obamacare."

The House proposal passed 217-213. It will likely face a tougher path in the Senate. Opponents hope it's dead on arrival.

"Don't make these moves without knowing (what's in the bill)," Barker said. "It's our lives that he's gambling with and it's not okay."

Senator Rob Portman came out against the healthcare bill passed out of the House. He said he had concerns about how it would affect Medicaid patients, particularly those struggling with heroin addiction.

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Senator Sherrod Brown also said he opposes the bill.

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