Republican Congressman Tom Reed, representing parts of WNY and the Finger Lakes in NY's 23rd Congressional District, faced angry crowds Saturday at town hall events in Dunkirk, Busti and Hinsdale.
These are the first town hall meetings Reed has held since voting yes to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Healthcare Act (AHCA). Constituents held signs criticizing Reed's vote, some going so far as to say his decision will cost many their lives.
"I think there are some things he's done that have helped us," Linda Witte of Olean said at Congressman Reed's town hall in Hinsdale. "But this is something that I think he's done that's going to hurt us. I would just encourage him to really look at what he's doing."
14-year-old Robert Shuryn from Wellsville lives with Type 1 diabetes and raised concerns with how the new healthcare bill would treat people like him, with pre-existing conditions.
"I didn't ask for this. I was born with it," the teenager said. "Justify to me, how you can take away my guarantee of affordable healthcare?"
A controversial portion of the legislation lets states seek a waiver that allows insurance companies to raise premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. But, Congressman Reed maintains the AHCA continues to protect and cover individuals with pre-existing conditions.
"I care deeply about individuals like that young man," Reed said about Shuryn. "My son is just another example of a Type 1 diabetic. I've heard those stories and I've heard those concerns. That's why I reassure those folks, what we did here protects the pre-existing condition reforms. Those were good reforms that need to go forward."