What started as a joke among two young adults, within hours became a website and then a crashing website as hundreds filled out a submission form over their desire to mail their ashes to lawmakers in response to Republicans' proposed healthcare bill to overhaul Obamacare.
Zoey Jordan Salsbury, a junior at American University, created the website mailmetotheGOP.com and has generated a platform for people who fear what would happen to them under the Republican proposal, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
The American Health Care Act (ACHA), passed Thursday by House Republicans, has raised fears that, should the GOP succeed in changing the nation's healthcare system, lives could be in jeopardy if they lost insurance as a result.
The Post reported Salsbury, who had quickly gained hundreds of submissions on her website, doesn't actually plan to send people's ashes to lawmakers. Instead, the article explained she would help individuals write their wills, with the assistance of an estate planner, so their cremated remains could be mailed to their chosen lawmaker. Mailing someone's ashes requires bubble wrap, a sturdy box, and filling out a U.S. Postal Service form.
"I have the feeling the Capitol building would actually stop" the packages, Salsbury said, given the federal government's historic concerns with unusual powders.
"We've been suggesting people send them to the district offices," she said. "Someone suggested a glitter bomb."
On Thursday, GOP House members passed the the AHCA by a narrow 217-213 margin without a single vote by Democrats. It immediately raised fears of what the changes might mean to the nation's healthcare system, fears that some opponents stoked by spreading misinformation.
The bill was met with mixed response in the Senate, which is likely to alter significant portions of the proposed legislation.
Respondents on Salsbury's website are offering testimonials when filling out the form's last question, "Why will you die because of the Republican healthcare bill?"
"I will die of an asthma attack," read one. "I hope my parents put my blue-faced body on Congressman Lloyd Smucker's doorstep."
"I nearly bankrupted my parents twice by age 13," read another. "My pancreas failed. I had a stroke. I started having heart problems … ACA kept me alive, and my parents financially stable."
The most popular recipient to receive ashes, Salsbury said, was House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who spearheaded the House effort to pass the ACHA, adding, "People are not pleased with him." She indicated she does intend to mail hers to Congress, probably to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
Salsbury, who suffers from depression and anxiety, was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which she described as "not deadly, but when it's not treated it feeds into the other psychiatric stuff."
People with pre-existing conditions fear they will be left out of affordable healthcare currently available under Obamacare, especially after reading remarks by commentators like Paul Waldman.
"It is no exaggeration to say that if it were to become law, this bill would kill significant numbers of Americans," Waldman wrote in The Post after the vote.
Not everyone finds the website an appealing method to respond to the House GOP bill. An article Friday on Twitchy.com said the idea "may be one of the most melodramatic and ghoulish responses yet," adding, "When Democrats have a meltdown BOY do they have a meltdown."
Salsbury has created other less controversial online projects, last year winning the President's Volunteer Service Award for helping service pantries connect with surplus food.
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