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Just Before The AHCA Vote, Kansas Residents Rally Outside Rep. Yoder's Office

Laura Spencer
KCUR 89.3
Ray Ramirez attended a protest outside of Rep. Yoder's office in Overland Park, Kansas.

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the American Health Care Act, the GOP-backed bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. 

House Republicans approved the plan by a narrow margin, 217 - 213. The measure goes next to the Senate.

In the waning hours before the vote, Indivisible Kansas City, a local branch of the national movement, organized a protest outside Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder's office in downtown Overland Park, Kansas. 

"We're gathered here outside of Representative Yoder's office, so we can ask him to vote 'no' on this health care bill. He could be the deciding vote," said Indivisible KC's Paffi Flood.

As of Thursday, Yoder was one of about less than two dozen House members still listed as undecided.

Nearly 50 people lined 79th Street just after noon, holding up signs and waving at passing honking cars. In groups of two or three, they took turns going inside the Congressman's office, at the corner of a strip of shops, to voice their concerns. 

Related: Here's How Kansas And Missouri Reps Voted Today On GOP Health Care Bill

"My wife asked me to come out here," said Ray Ramirez with a smile and described himself as "retired military." He stood next to the street with a green sign that read: "We will not be silenced."

"I see that a lot of people are hurting," he said, "I'd like to see if we can make a difference, speak up for them." 

Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Some of the protesters, holding signs along 79th Street outside of Rep. Yoder's office in Overland Park, Kansas.

Vicki Miller, who's also retired, spent more than 40 years as a social worker.

"I worked with a lot of people that didn't have health care," she said. "And I saw a lot of the pain and misery." 

"I am here, and I am taking a stand for intelligent health care ... that's going to work for all people."

Rep. Yoder kept to the party line and cast a 'yes' vote. 

KCUR reached out to Yoder's office for a comment, and his office provided this statement. Yoder argued that he "cast a vote in favor of fixing our broken health care system."

In the release, he also stated, "Rather than forcing Americans to buy plans they don't want or can't afford ... the AHCA makes the necessary changes to repair our health care system that's collapsing before our eyes. For these reasons, I voted yes." 

When asked earlier how he'd respond if Yoder voted 'yes,' Ramirez said, "I feel like it's an injustice to the people that need the insurance. I will continue to protest."

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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