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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

'Please don't let me die.' Gus Bilirakis hears from district on Obamacare

Hundreds turned out for a town hall meeting Saturday called by Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis. In this largely conservative district, the crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Obamacare. Despite their strong statements, Bilirakis favors repealing the Affordable Care Act to resolve its flaws.

Kathleen McGrory

Hundreds turned out for a town hall meeting Saturday called by Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis. In this largely conservative district, the crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Obamacare. Despite their strong statements, Bilirakis favors repealing the Affordable Care Act to resolve its flaws.

4

February

Rep. Gus Bilirakis issued the call to residents of his conservative district on Facebook: Come share your thoughts on the future of health care.

More than 200 people took the Republican congressman up on it, packing a Palm Harbor community center on Saturday morning so tightly that late-comers had to park down the street.

The twist: Despite the demographics of the district, which includes all of Pasco and parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, nearly all the guests came to support for the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era health law now on the chopping block.

There was John Ford, 66, who was once denied coverage for his hip because he had previously had the joint replaced. And Christine Mendonca, 34, who worried that without Obamacare, she could no longer afford to get pregnant.

Evan Thornton, 21, fought back tears describing the congenital heart condition that could cut his life short. The Affordable Care Act had allowed him to have coverage under his parents' plan into his 20s, he said.

"I'm an independent who voted for you," he told Bilirakis. "Please don't take my life away. Please don't let me die."

Only a handful supported efforts by Congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the health law — and one was a Bilirakis employee, case work director Kristen Sellas.

Read the story.

[Last modified: Saturday, February 4, 2017 6:49pm]

    

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