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Hill Country Healthcare Protest A Display Of Frustration

In Fredericksburg over the weekend, opponents of the latest proposed healthcare bill in the U.S. Senate rallied publicly. In the middle of Cruz and Cornyn country, opponents found creative ways to make their voices heard.

Fredericksburg is is one of the least likely places you’d expect to see a political rally. It's an upscale touristy retirement town of 10,000 people in the Texas Hill Country, well known for its  fresh peaches.


This weekend, a choir called “The Impeaches” took center stage at the main square.

The vocal crowd of about 200 was a mix of men and women, old and young -- all gathered against the Republican plan to change the ACA. One of them was Jane Crone, 73.

Credit Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
A choir that billed itself as the Impeaches entertained the crowd at a protest rally in Fredericksburg.


"We just have to make our voices heard," Crone stated. "What’s going on is not in the best interest of the majority of Americans."

They waved handmade signs with provocative messages. One senior’s note read “Now you’ve pissed off Grandma.” The bill’s cuts to Medicaid threaten the 65 percent of people in nursing homes supported by Medicaid.

J.B. Chimene, a senior from Johnson City near Austin, said the proposed bill puts American healthcare in rewind. Cuts to Medicaid, the cuts to kids, the cuts to seniors….we really need to put more people under healthcare, not fewer," Chimene stressed.

Lily Beaumont was one of the youngest participants. She’s in her 20s. She gets insurance through the exchange. "

I get my insurance through the free market," Lily said. "I’m a freelance writer. So I am very concerned about losing it."

Credit Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
The crowd rallying against proposed GOP healthcare legislation carried dozens of hand painted signs.


At a western wear store just across the street from the rally, an employee muses about the gathering. Self-described Libertarian Dean Osteen says he doesn’t qualify for a subsidy and can’t afford Obamacare, so he just pays the tax penalty. He’s in favor of repealing and replacing the law.

"I’m not that familiar with the Republican plan," Osteen admitted."But I am in favor of some sort of change. I would like to have healthcare at some point again."

Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country. The state didn’t expand Medicaid and the rate of people who get coverage from their employer is lower than the national average. But a June poll showed both Obamacare and the House version of the healthcare bill were unpopular.

"There's a lot more of us than you think," said Susan Curtis from the local Democratic club, who says she was disappointed the Senate committee who came up with this latest plan behind closed doors was composed of only men. "I would like to have seen some of the women in the Senate included in this," she said.

Even the temperatures over 100 degrees didn't deter the protestors of all ages in Fredericksburg who came together to rally against proposed GOP healthcare legislation.


Joyce Humble is opposed to the deep reductions for federal funding for Medicaid. "

This bill is an abomination. It’s going to impact all of us out here in the Hill Country," Humble asserted. "People in nursing homes. Disabled children. Disabled adults. I mean, what’s going to happen to those people?"

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill later this week.


Wendy Rigby is a San Antonio native who has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. She spent two decades at KENS-TV covering health and medical news. Now, she brings her considerable background, experience and passion to Texas Public Radio.