What's Next for Bernie Sanders: Fighting Republican Health Care Plan in Red State Rallies

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally against President Donald Trump’s travel ban, outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., January 30. Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

Senator Bernie Sanders energized many voters across the country during his failed bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, and now he's hitting the road again to speak with Americans—but with a different end goal in mind. The independent senator from Vermont is set this weekend to hold rallies in traditionally Republican-voting states to speak out against the GOP's health care plan, which is aimed at gutting the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

Sanders has titled the rallies Care Not Cuts, pointing to the Congressional Budget Office estimate that tens of millions of American would lose coverage under the plan formulated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues. The Sanders events are scheduled to take place in Kentucky and West Virginia on Sunday.

"McConnell's legislation, which would throw 22 million Americans off of health insurance, would be a disaster for the country and an even worse disaster for the people of Kentucky," Sanders said in a statement. "Under the Affordable Care Act, Kentucky has made significant progress in lowering the number of its uninsured people. Further, the expansion of Medicaid there has been of significant help in the fight against the opioid epidemic which has ravaged Kentucky."

Sanders recently held similar rallies in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio as part of the Don't Take Our Health Care tour sponsored by the progressive group MoveOn.org. Sanders has been highly critical of the GOP's health care efforts in both the House and the Senate. Shortly after the Senate bill was introduced, he tweeted that it was "the most harmful piece of legislation I've seen in my lifetime."

"If you cut Medicaid by over $800 billion, there is no question but that thousands of Americans will die," Sanders said on CNN to expand on his initial statement. "This is barbaric. Frankly, this is what oligarchy is all about."

McConnell had planned to take a vote on the legislation before the Senate adjourned for its Fourth of July recess, but he delayed it after realizing the GOP didn't have the 50 votes necessary for the bill to pass. Republican lawmakers have been subject to protests during their break, and reports suggest the GOP's path to passing the bill could be tenuous.

The legislation is incredibly unpopular among Americans, with one poll finding just 12 percent of the country approved of the plan.