by PENNY STARR12 May 2017
Liberal activists involved in a nationwide effort to disrupt town hall meetings being held by lawmakers for their constituents reached a new low on Wednesday night when Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) was mocked when he told the unruly crowd about how the death of his special needs daughter informed his decision to amend and vote for the American Health Care Act that was passed by the House earlier this month.
When MacArthur started to tell the story about Gracie, who died two decades ago at age 11, someone yelled “Shame!,” accusing the lawmaker of “using” his daughter’s death to promote his political agenda.
“I will say shame on you right now actually,” MacArthur said. “I’m going to tell you because this affects my perspective on this issue of health care.”
The Congressman offered the “MacArthur amendment” in the GOP bill that now will be taken up by the Senate.
The amendment, in part, offers protections for people with pre-existing conditions and would “create an option for states to obtain Limited Waivers from certain federal standards, in the interest of lowering premium costs and expanding the number of insured persons.”
When MacArthur tried to explain the facts about the health legislation, he was shouted down.
At one point, police were called in to ensure MacArthur’s safety, the ABC-affiliate in New Jersey reported.
Earlier this month, NBC reported on MacAurthur, who worked in the health insurance industry, and the story about his daughter’s health struggles and tragic dealth.
“The two-term moderate, whose district stretches from the Philadelphia suburbs to the Jersey shore, has worked with conservatives to make compromise changes to the once-shelved GOP bill,” NBC reported.
“When asked about his motivation to go out on a limb for the bill, MacArthur hesitated as if he were holding something back,” NBC reported. “Then he cautiously told NBC News that his drive to push the legislation comes from traumatic events in his own family.”
Gracie was the first child born to MacArthur and his wife Debbie. She was born with holoprosencephaly, a rare brain condition. Their daughter was not expected to live but did so. She finally succumbed from complications that included severe seizures when she was 11.
At the time of his daughter’s illness, MacArthur said he had insurance but it did not cover all of her expenses, which totaled more than $1 million, according to NBC.
MacArthur also said when his mother died from cancer when he was a child his family had no insurance and his father worked for years to pay off their medical debt.
He told NBC that his amendment to the health care bill “will help to reduce the cost of insurance because people with high-cost health bills would not be in the private insurance market but instead in a federally- and state-funded high-risk pool, or some other mechanism that states create to cover the more expensive cases” and that that would help drive down costs for healthier people with insurance.
NJ.com reported that New Jersey Citizen Action, which bills itself as a “statewide grassroots organization that fights for economic and social justice,” organized the disruption.