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Sanders to headline Pittsburgh health care rally |

Sanders to headline Pittsburgh health care rally

| Friday, June 23, 2017 12:36 p.m
Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses supporters on the eve of Pennsylvania’s primary election during a campaign event at the University of Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House in Oakland on Monday, April 25, 2016.

Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is headlining a rally Saturday in Pittsburgh to protest the Republican health care plan unveiled this week in the U.S. Senate.

Sanders, a senator from Vermont, plans to hold similar rallies this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and Charleston, W.Va. The Pittsburgh rally starts at 7 p.m. at Downtown’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

The rallies are designed to put pressure on Republican senators in each state, including U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh County.

Toomey served on a 13-man “working group” that played a role in crafting the GOP plan, though he said Thursday that the group’s involvement consisted of “discussing and debating and vetting various proposals,” not writing the bill.

Toomey said he saw the 142-page draft of the bill for the first time Thursday morning. He said he was still reviewing the proposal, but is likely to vote for it.

Toomey said the plan “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. Further, this bill works to ensure Medicaid is sustainable for future generations by modestly reducing, seven and a half years from now, the rate at which federal spending on the program will grow.”

Sanders called the bill “disastrous.”

“The Republican plan is even worse than expected and by far the most harmful piece of legislation I have seen in my lifetime,” Sanders said in a news release issued by the progressive advocacy group “Our job now is to rally millions of Americans against this disastrous bill to make sure that it does not pass the Senate.”

The Congressional Budget Office, which estimated that 23 million people would lose coverage under the health care plan by House Republicans, has not finished its analysis of the Senate plan. It plans to release a report early next week.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847, or via Twitter at @FontainePGH.

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