Dozens of people gathered to protest potential changes to the Affordable Care Act during House Speaker Paul Ryan's visit to Knoxville.
The protesters, from Tennessee Health Care Campaign, Indivisible of East TN and other groups, gathered near the Cherokee Country Club at the corner of Northshore Drive and Lyons View Pike Thursday to voice their concerns over a potential repeal and replacement of current health care laws.
Speaker Ryan came to Knoxville to speak at the club for a private fundraising event hosted by state Republican leaders. That event was closed to the press.
Protesters formed a human chain and held a 'Die-In' to voice their concerns over the possibility of millions losing broad health care coverage provided under the ACA.
Organizer Gloria Johnson said Ryan and other GOP leaders are not listening to their constituents' concerns about health care after the House approved legislation to repeal and replace key parts of the ACA. That bill is now making rounds in the U.S. Senate.
"They're hiding in those buildings at their big high dollar fundraisers, instead of talking to the people out here who are just terrified of what's going to happen to their health care," Johnson said.
Ryan stopped in Nashville and Knoxville on Thursday.
Spokesman Zack Roday said Ryan is intent on repairing what he sees as a broken health care system.
"Paul Ryan was glad to be in Nashville and Knoxville today to talk about the Republican agenda to get our country back on track and keep our word to fix problems," Roday said in a statement to 10News. "Republicans are committed to solving problems like Obamacare, which has driven premiums up all across America. In Tennessee alone, premiums have gone up 176 percent. That is unacceptable and that is why congressional Republicans and President Trump have stepped in to rescue our health care system from Obamacare's collapse."
The protests come more than a week after the Congressional Budget Office released its report of what would happen after implementing the current draft of the repeal and replace measure, which found that 23 million people would stand to lose insurance by 2026.