By Thomas Novelly for The Courier-Journal. Photos from Kay Tillow of Kentuckians for Single Payer.
Five people were issued federal citations by Department of Homeland Security officials Thursday during a sit-in at Senator Mitchell McConnell’s Louisville office to protest the Senate Republican health care bill.
Attorney David Suetholz told the Courier-Journal that the five were cited with trespassing when they sat in McConnell’s sixth-floor office at the Gene Snyder Federal Court building despite being told by security officers that only two at a time were allowed inside.
The five issued citations were Katina Cummings, Kay Tillow, Christine Perline, ClaraAna Ruplinger and William Corey Nett. They were part of a dozen protesters that gathered outside McConnell’s office starting at 11 a.m.
After being asked to leave around 2 p.m., the group continued protesting on the sidewalk near South Sixth Street and West Broadway and dispersed about an hour later.
Watch the protest outside the federal building on the Courier-Journal’s Facebook page.
Nett, 38, who has cerebral palsy, benefits from a Medicaid waiver, and the proposed health care plan would reduce it, drastically affecting his care, his caretaker Sarah Mack said.
“Everyone is affected,” Nett said. “No matter how old you are, if you’re in good health or bad health, if you’re a grandma or not, because everyone is affected by Medicare and Medicaid.”
Following a request for comment, McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said in an email that the senator cares about people’s right to protest.
“As an avid supporter of the First Amendment, Senator McConnell believes that all citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and express their opinions,” Steurer said in the email. “As he participates in events around the Commonwealth, the Senator is hearing directly from Kentuckians about their concerns for the future of this country. One of the most discussed issues among the people of Kentucky is the failing state of Obamacare.”
McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader and senior Republican senator from Kentucky, is currently fighting an uphill battle to pass a bill that will repeal and replace Obamacare. In addition to democratic opposition, several Republicans such as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul believe the proposed bill does not replace enough government subsidies.
“This plan will free Americans from Obamacare’s mandates,” McConnell wrote in an op-ed for the Courier-Journal. “By repealing the individual and employer mandates, Americans will no longer be forced to buy insurance they don’t need or can’t afford, and they won’t see their hours or take-home pay cut because of Obamacare.”
Katina Cummings, however, disagrees. As one of the five given a federal citation, she said that she doesn’t regret participating because the effects of McConnell’s bill are larger than her legal troubles.
“We all were prepared to go to this sit-in because of the devastating effects of this bill,” Cummings said. “We have the right to have peaceful sit-ins. I’m glad to represent the millions of people who will be affected by this health care bill that couldn’t be here today because they are so sick.”
Reach Reporter Thomas Novelly at 502-582-4465 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.