WASHINGTON — Dozens of protesters gathered Wednesday evening outside the studio of ABC 27 News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Sen. Pat Toomey was participating in a TV town hall, and demanded the Republican from Pennsylvania vote against the Senate health care bill.
Videos showed police wheeling away protesters in wheelchairs after they blocked the studio’s entrance. Harrisburg police told PennLive six people were arrested and charged with simple trespassing.
Under the Republican Senate legislation, an estimated 22 million people would lose health coverage over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The measure would also dramatically cut federal funding for Medicaid.
Toomey has called the bill “an important and constructive first step in repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a better, stable, consumer-driven health care system for all Pennsylvanians.”
Asked during Wednesday’s invitation-only town hall about the protesters outside, Toomey said, “We have a difference of opinion on how best to go forward on health care.”
“I’ve met folks who disagree with me from all walks of life. And there’s a lot of people who agree that we should move in a different direction. Fundamentally, I think Obamacare has failed us.”
Additionally, Toomey said the CBO score is “based on, in my view, wildly speculative assumptions that I think are extremely unlikely to come to pass.”
“The person who is responsible for doing the scoring at CBO,” he added, “is a former Hillary Clinton staffer who was very actively involved in designing Hillarycare. I just think she makes assumptions and has a bias that is not the same as the one I would make.”
Outside the Wednesday town hall event, protesters waved signs and chanted, “Toomey, vote no on the health care bill.” A video shot by ABC 27 showed two people carrying a giant syringe that read “Swine flu shot — give Toomey a shot in the butt.”
Activists included members of ADAPT, a national disability-rights organization.
The group said at least seven of its members were arrested outside the TV station.
The Harrisburg Police Bureau could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
In a press release Wednesday, Pennsylvania ADAPT demanded Toomey “stop hiding from his disabled constituents the Senate healthcare bill will hurt the most.”
“ADAPT has asked Senator Toomey to meet with us at his offices across the Commonwealth and he has refused to look us in the eye to discuss the cuts he intends to make to the services that allow us to live in our homes,” ADAPT organizer Germán Parodi said in a statement. “The caps and cuts to Medicaid he intends to vote into law would devastate home and community-based services, forcing many with disabilities such as myself out of our homes and into nursing homes.”
Earlier this month in Washington, D.C., more than 40 people — many of them disabled — were arrested in Senate office buildings while protesting the Senate health care bill. Inside Toomey’s office, protesters chanted, “Kill the bill! Don’t kill me!”