The sidewalks along 79th Street outside Rep. Kevin Yoder’s district office were a lively scene Friday afternoon, as roughly 200 demonstrators lined the road to voice their opinions about the congressman’s vote in favor of the American Health Care Act.
The majority of those along the road were there to protest Yoder’s vote, with many holding signs showing support for Planned Parenthood or chastising Yoder. A smaller but significant crowd, mostly lined up on the north side of the street, held signed protesting Planned Parenthood. A handful held up signs thanking Yoder for his vote.
But the demonstrations were not fueled solely by the AHCA vote. Charley Morasch of Leawood was among those on site showing support for Yoder. He said he was motivated to come out based on media reports he had seen about liberal opposition to conservative speakers on college campuses in recent years.
“I’ve really been upset by the amount of violence that we’ve seen from the left on college campuses that seems unrestrained and unreported in the media,” he said. “I just think it’s time to stand up for the First Amendment speech on campuses and in our nation.”
He was less enthusiastic about the details of the American Health Care Act, though, saying that “I can’t say that I like much” about the bill. He criticized the Affordable Care Act, saying that supporters’ suggestions that it would keep premiums in check and allow people to stay with their doctors had proven false in many instances. He said he wished the government hadn’t gotten involved in guaranteeing additional services and rights under the ACA.
“I think it’s too late that we’re ever going to go back,” Morasch said. “Once you give people a government program, it seems impossible to ever take back.”
But the majority of the demonstrators were there to protest Yoder’s vote. With District 3 having voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in November’s presidential election, signs point to Yoder’s seat being competitive in the 2018 election cycle. Indivisible KC, which has been organizing early efforts to put the seat in play, had many representatives on site, including Paffi Flood.
Flood held a sign reading “RIP Yoder 2018.” She said the provisions of the American Health Care Act threatened to diminish access to coverage for people in a wide swath of situations, from those who get insurance via an employer to those who buy their own insurance on the market.
“We feel that Congressman Yoder should have voted no,” Paffi said. “Because he voted yes, we’re going to hold him accountable for the decision that he made that is going to be responsible for millions of Americans and Kansans suffering if this bill becomes law.”