"She spent the last hour of her life in a parking lot at a high school waiting for a helicopter," said Adam O'Neal, a Republican mayor, holding a framed photograph of his deceased constituent Portia Gibbs.
O'Neal was standing outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, where he had walked all the way from his hometown in Belhaven, North Carolina.
O'Neal places the blame for Portia Gibbs's death on North Carolina Republicans' failure to accept Medicaid funding, which led to the closure of a hospital that could have saved her life. The local hospital in Belhaven closed on July 1, just six days before 48-year-old Gibbs had a fatal heart attack. The next closest hospital is 84 miles away.
The mayor is far from a RINO, which makes his protest all the more surprising. "I'm a pretty conservative guy, but this is a matter of people dying," he told Milbank.
"If the governor and the legislature don't want to accept Medicaid expansion, they need to come up with another program to assure that rural hospitals don't close," the mayor explained. "They're allowing people to die to prove a point. That is wrong, and I'm not going to be a party to that."
O'Neal tried reaching out to Obama to discuss how to expand Medicaid in states that have refused Obamacare funding. Strangely the White House did not respond to his bipartisan overture. But there are limits to O'Neal's bipartisanship: He declined Democratic Senator Kay Hagan's request to appear in a campaign commercial with her.
At the Capitol O'Neal stood alongside Crystal Price, a 27-year-old mother who works at Wendy's and can't afford treatment for her cervical cancer because she falls into the "Medicaid Gap" in North Carolina. "Conservatives -- everybody -- should think that's wrong," O'Neal said of Price's tragic predicament. "Ladies like Portia Gibbs are dying all across this country right now," O'Neal continued. "We're going to fight as hard as we can to keep this from happening again."
You can read more about O'Neal's campaign and walk at his Twitter account here.