Piercing the placid afternoon outside Toms River Town Hall with shouts of "T-Mac! Take It Back!" and "Health Care Is A Human Right!," protesters hoping to see the American Health Care Act torpedoed took up signs and gathered signatures today outside the office of Representative Tom MacArthur (R-3).

American Health Care Act protest, downtown Toms River (Tom Mongelli, Townsquare Media)

MacArthur is in Washington, but members of the New Jersey Organizing Project (NJOP), New Jersey Main Street Alliance, Ocean County National Organization for Women (NOW), and the Solidarity Singers turned their attention to passers-by, employees, shoppers and business operators, getting frequent honks from passing cars while carrying placards. They hope to convince MacArthur to vote against the bill for which he wrote key provisions.

The second-term Republican has consistently held that the proposed replacement for Affordable Care Act (ACA) is far from perfect, but that its sustainability, and its ability to keep health care affordable for people in direst need easily surpasses Obamacare, and his purpose in authoring provisions was to correct inherent flaws.

Demonstrators framed their case in new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), predicting loss of coverage for as many as 22,000,000 Americans within 10 years, combined with a report released this week by New Jersey Policy Perspective.

Representative Tom MacArthur (Alexander Heller, Ocean County College)

NJOP's Priscilla Robinson contended that AHCA would deeply impact Ocean County. "Forty percent of folks here are working poor," she said. "Many of them depend on Medicaid and other service programs under the ACA, for their health care."

Jerome Montes of the New Jersey Main Street Alliance predicted that AHCA would hit at least 47,000 small business operators in the Garden State. "They're going to see their insurance premiums skyrocket, or they may not be able to afford insurance at all," he said.

In past discussions, MacArthur said that his goal is to retain the workable parts of ACA, and to replace the components that signal failure, either short-term or loing-term. Robinson stands against ACA repeal period, firmly dismissing any idea of compromise toward a common goal.

"I really believe that the most vulnerable, and everybody, in our society deserves to have affordable, and adequate, health care, that  protects them from disease and destruction," she said, and from NJOP's perspective, only ACA can deliver it.

Montes placed the argument in strident economic terms. "The ACA accounts for about a sixth of the American economy," he said. "You're talking about 50,000 jobs in New Jersey, created because of the Affordable Care Act. Take away billions of dollars in federal funding, money from the pockets of people who, at one point, had affordable health care, that means you're looking at an economic disaster as well as a health care disaster."

MacArthur returns to 92.7 WOBM for "Ask The Congressman" on August 9, 7 PM.

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