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Mayor Kenney spoke out agains the AHCA as congress plans to vote on Thursday.
Mayor Kenney spoke out agains the AHCA as congress plans to vote on Thursday.

Battle over ACHA hits Philly's Backyard

In an effort to get Congress to vote down the AHCA, the mayor and local officials held a press conference to express their opposition to the bill. 

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As one of the nation's poorest major cities, Philadelphia doesn't have much to lose - except it's people. And according to a press conference today, Mayor Jim Kenney believes that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)and introduction of the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) would do just that.

This morning, the mayor, along with other city officials and community members spoke to share what's at stake with the ACA - or Obamacare - is repealed. 

Focusing on the numbers, the statement from the Mayor focuses on issues that would significantly affect elderly, mentally ill, and those who have gained jobs in health care through the boom. “More than 200,000 Philadelphians have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act, over 160,000 through Medicaid and about 60,000 through the Marketplace. The ACA has also enabled 160,000 additional Philadelphians to receive treatment for mental illness or substance use through the Medicaid behavioral health program, which is operated by the City’s Department of Behavioral Health. Furthermore, in the three years that the ACA has been in effect, the Philadelphia region has added approximately 20,000 jobs in the healthcare and education sector," said Kenney. 

From lack of jobs, to lack of health care the direct impact the bill would have on the city's population is measurable. If 20,000 lose coverage, especially from chronic illnesses as Patricia Eakin, President of PASNAP pointed out. 

"A chronic illness such as high blood pressure can be treated with pills and doctor's visits, if under the AHCA, people have to ration their care, you'll see a lot more people dying from illnesses they could have treated," said Eakin. 

In addition to chronic illnesses, the regular care needed to handle mental and behavioral health also came into plan and was a major issue according to the health commissioner. Focusing on the repercussions of mentally ill patients who would be unable to receive their medication due to expenses under the AHCA, he spoke of illnesses varying from attention deficit disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. He mentioned the how local students with behavioral issues would be separated in classrooms and farther isolated due to behavior and also mentioned how medicine and treatment for local vets is often covered by Obamacare. 

And the number one target of Congress? Planned Parenthood, a service that thousands of women in the Philadelphia area use regularly as their primary center for health care.“Finally, AHCA would defund Planned Parenthood, which would deprive thousands of women in Philadelphia of the preventive health services that they are currently receiving," said Kenney.

As Congress comes to a vote later tonight, tensions are high though the bill has received backlash from both sides. From liberals who think the tax cuts for the rich are harming local families to conservatives who believe the AHCA is Obamacare with a new name, garnering support for the bill has been tough.

*The vote for the AHCA has been pushed back to Friday.

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