“Hey guys, if everyone would assemble themselves beside the tombstones and the coffin,” declared progressive organizer Melanie Gold, and with that the weekly protest rally outside Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s Orlando office commenced Tuesday, urging him to oppose the American Health Care Act

Gold and others have been organizing such protests every Tuesday lunch hour in downtown Orlando since early January, sometimes with cardboard tombstones and coffins, sometimes just with signs, tambourines and megaphones. By now the Republican senator, or at least his Orlando staff, should have a pretty good idea that Central Florida’s progressive activists want to keep the heat on.

Now armed with the Congressional Budget Office’s report from last week on the bill, the gathering shouted and chanted their warnings to Rubio Tuesday that Floridians want the President Barack Obama-era Affordable Care Act fixed, not repealed and replaced as the American Health Care Act would do if the U.S. Senate passes it like the U.S. House of Representatives did earlier this month.

“For me what is exciting is what is happening around the country,” said Mitch Emerson, one of four speakers at Tuesday’s rally. “Every Republican who voted for this bill is being held accountable, whether it is someone like [U.S. Rep. Bill] Posey or [U.S. Rep. Daniel] Webster, people really all across the state are saying if you voted for this bill we will hold you accountable.

“I will say there is one positive from this: approval for the ACA, ObamaCare, has never been higher,” Emerson added.

That CBO report projected that 23 million people would lose or drop health insurance under the Republican plan. The CBO report also confirmed Democrats criticism that the state waiver clause could lead states to block coverage of pre-existing conditions, and eliminate coverages such as pre-natal care.

“People will die if this passes,’ Emerson said. “It’s not a debatable thing. If you don’t have health care, people will die.”

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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