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Tweet Comer and remind him he promised to protect the ACA's pre-existing condition clause

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By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

First District Congressman James Comer, R-Tompkinsville, seems set to support the reincarnation of the GOP’s American Health Care Act.

He was all in for the first one, even riding with President Trump on Air Force One to tout the bill at a rally in Louisville.

But two progressive groups in the far western end of Comer's First District are urging voters to take to Twitter to remind the tea party-tilting freshman that he “vowed to protect the pre-existing condition clause [in the Affordable Care Act] ‘with every last breath I have.'"

The groups are the Western Kentucky chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Four Rivers Indivisible, a branch of the national organization. 

Jessica Hays Lucas of KFTC posted on the chapter Facebook page a bright blue meme that features a photo of Comer with his pledge, his Twitter handle, @KYComer, and the phone number of his Washington office--(202) 225-3115.   

"I highly encourage Comer's constituents to hold him accountable for his promise to maintain the mandate for pre-existing condition coverage," said Andy Wiggins of Paducah, who represents the local chapter on the KFTC Steering Committee.

Leslie McColgin, who heads the Four Rivers group, shared the meme with her members.  

“I think this can be very effective if his Twitter account is inundated with lots of people sending the same meme," McColgin said.   

She thinks meme-making and sharing might be a good project for her group and other activists. People could “put forth ideas for what we want on the memes to tweet to Comer, Paul, McConnell and try to make a bank of these memes.”

AHCA II would gut the pre-existing guarantee, according to The Huffington Post’s John Cohn.

“The measure’s supporters insist that their proposal would not harm people with serious medical problems, he wrote. "In fact, a clause states explicitly: ‘Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.'

“But that is exactly what it would do.”

The AHCA is supposed to "repeal and replace" the ACA. “By now, most people know that the Affordable Care Act protects people with pre-existing conditions," Cohn explained. "But not everybody realizes that the law accomplishes this through several mechanisms that interact.

“The law doesn’t simply prohibit insurers from denying coverage outright to people with medical problems, it also prohibits insurers from charging those people more ― or from selling policies that skimp on or leave out key benefits, rendering insurance useless to people who depend on those benefits.

“Under the new proposal, insurers still couldn’t reject people who have pre-existing conditions. But states could allow insurers to charge those people higher premiums ― and to sell policies without Obamacare’s essential benefits.”

The first AHCA didn’t come to a vote because a number of conservatives—there are no moderate Republicans—teamed up with the hard right Freedom Caucus to deny Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan the majority they needed to pass the measure.

For voters like me who think Twitter is what birds do, McColgin explains “you can send this one by joining Twitter--just go to twitter.com and sign up. 

“I have not used Twitter before and am still learning myself," she confessed. 

Anyway, chances of AHCA II passing are iffy, because 27 Republican lawmakers are in the “no” or “lean no,” camp, according to HP reporter Matt Fuller’s tally. Because no Democrat is expected to vote for the measure, 22 GOP defections will sink the bill.

But it looks like Trump can count on Comer. So far, nobody in congress is more loyal to the president than him.

Comer, whose district sprawls over western and south-central Kentucky, has voted in line with the president’s position on legislation 100 percent of the time, according to the FiveThirtyEight website Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump, which has an updating tally of how often every member of the House and the Senate votes with or against the president.

Comer also shares his party’s deep disdain for unions. When Comer ran for governor in the 2015 GOP primary, he said his top priority was making Kentucky a “right to work” state. Trump prefers RTW states. 

Matt Bevin, another reactionary tea party Republican who won the primary and the election, pushed a RTW bill through the GOP-majority state legislature in January. Every voting Democrat opposed the bill. Only a handful of Republicans broke party ranks to oppose RTW.

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