Demonstrators gather in front of Hanford hospital, calling for protection of healthcare

HANFORD, Calif. (KFSN) -- Community and labor activists, healthcare providers, and concerned citizens took to the podium in Hanford Thursday, urging Congressman David Valadao not to support the newly introduced American Healthcare Act. The act was designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

They say California, and especially the Central Valley, has too much at stake, after so many gained health insurance with the passage of the ACA.

"Since we're a big state, that means a lot more people getting uninsured and so we have a lot to lose," said Yasmin Peled, Health Access California.

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The ACA also expanded Medi-Cal coverage to millions of Californians, but the new Republican legislation would end that expansion starting in 2020 and spending on the program would be capped. Something Peled says would negatively affect many patients and hospitals.

"So here, this hospital would lose millions of dollars every single year with a restructuring of the Medicaid program."

Adventist Health Central Valley Network Chief Medical Officer Dr. Raul Ayala said because of the ACA and Medi-Cal expansion, they are now able to serve more of the undeserved community in their clinics and hospitals.

"For the most part, that's been such a blessing for us because we're now taking care of patients in our clinics that probably would have never been seen before."

Dr. Ayala is concerned about what could happen if those people lose their insurance or if they are not covered while transitioning to new insurance.

"The impoverished, the children, the elderly, these are the people that are the most vulnerable in our population. And if there's any discrepancy or change of care, it might be detrimental to the future of that being."

Congressman Valadao said as part of a statement today, "Our healthcare system was broken before Obamacare, but Obamacare made it even worse. Possession of an insurance card does not necessarily equate to access to quality healthcare, a reality my constituents grapple with every day. That's why we need to find a better solution. Our healthcare system is incredibly complex and any potential reforms must be thoughtfully considered. As I continue to review the recent proposal from House Republicans, ensuring my constituents have access to affordable, quality healthcare will remain my top priority."
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