Activists gather outside Toomey’s Pittsburgh office for 24-hour vigil |

Activists gather outside Toomey’s Pittsburgh office for 24-hour vigil

Megan Guza
Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
Protesters stand vigil outside the Grant Street office of Sen. Pat Toomey to protest his support of the GOP's plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act Friday, June 23, 2017.
Courtesy of Alex Wallach Hanson, Pittsburgh United
Protesters stand vigil outside the Grant Street office of Sen. Pat Toomey to protest his support of the GOP's plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act Friday, June 23, 2017.

Rain failed to chase away about a half-dozen people keeping vigil outside Sen. Pat Toomey’s office Friday in protest against his support of the GOP health care proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Highland Park’s Molly Latinoba was among several protesters who spent much of the night outside Toomey’s Grant Street office. She said she worries what will happen to her 6-year-old daughter, Lucy, who has Down syndrome, if the Affordable Care Act is dismantled.

Latinoba said she and her family depend on Medicaid to cover the costs of Lucy’s medical needs.

“I don’t know what this means for her, and I’m terrified,” she said.

Latinoba joined others at the start of the 24-hour vigil about 5 p.m. Thursday. She said she went home for a few hours of sleep around 3 a.m. and planned to stick it out until the vigil ended. Some people who remained Downtown overnight gathered beneath the portico of the City-County Building to get out of the rain.

Toomey on Thursday called the GOP’s draft proposal a “constructive step in the right direction” that he is “likely to support,” though he stopped short of giving it his blessing because he had not finished reviewing it. He said it “does not pull the rug out from anyone currently covered by Obamacare, and keeps the Medicaid expansion covering able-bodied, working-age, childless adults, while asking the states to eventually contribute their fair share for this care.”

Libby Powers of the Consumer Health Coalition worries that her spina bifida — considered a pre-existing condition — could leave her without insurance to cover her medical costs. She said that as a disabilities advocate, she felt compelled to speak out.

“It’s important to be out on the front lines saying what needs to be said and saying it loud and clear,” said Powers, who lives in Sewickley.

“This will literally cost lives,” Powers said. “They’re not just playing with people’s livelihood. They’re playing with people’s lives.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter at @meganguzaTrib.

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