Around 100 protesters clustered around the entrances of the University of Kentucky’s Hilary J. Boone Center Tuesday night, hoping to catch the ear of Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr.
Demonstrators jockeyed for position outside the building where the Republican lawmaker was addressing the Lexington Medical Society, belting out chants of “Trumpcare kills” and “Repeal Barr." The group marched around the perimeter, even pressing signs against the glass at the main door.
"I have a whole plethora of pre-existing conditions," said protester Prairie King. "If they take away my healthcare, then I'm pretty much screwed, as are all of these people."
Others were up on the latest out of Washington and wanted answers.
"We are hoping that there'll be some logic and sense take over. However, with the recent news that Trump fired [FBI Director James Comey], what more can I ask? What more can I hope for?" Joell Finney asked, with a fellow demonstrator adding: "Impeachment."
Barr faced an equally animated crowd at a recent town hall held at Lafayette High School, the congressman's first public meeting in Lexington since the November elections. Since then, the lawmaker has encountered frustrated constituents across the district – even, apparently, in houses of worship.
"I go to church with him," Finney volunteered. "And each time I'm near his seat, when he goes up for communion, I put a note in his seat telling him what I think of him." The theme of those messages: "Think of those less fortunate than we."
But protesters dispersed long before Barr emerged from the invitation-only dinner. The congressman was on hand to discuss his insights into the GOP’s American Health Care Bill, which he helped pass through his chamber last week.
"After seven years of broken promises, lost coverage, skyrocketing premiums, thousands of pages of regulations, tax penalties, collapsing co-ops, fewer jobs, and state exchanges which are now in a death spiral of fewer choices and rising costs – the House of Representatives has taken a critical step in the process that will finally repeal and replace Obamacare," Barr said in a statement after its passage.
The three-term lawmaker went on to say the House plan "provides multiple layers of protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”
Still, Barr declined to take any questions on the bill – or the forthcoming Senate version – on his way out of the Tuesday night event.