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Wednesday
Sep272017

You stopped Trumpcare! Again!

Calls, rallies, social media and more made the difference!
 
You called your senators, posted on social media, joined rallies and reached out to the news media. It made all the difference! Yesterday, Senate Republicans announced that they will not be voting this week on the Graham-Cassidy bill, which was the last remaining Trumpcare bill!

We knew this was the worst attempt yet to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and slash Medicaid. The bill was opposed by an unusual coalition of doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies who warned that it would “cause patients and consumers to lose important protections,” “undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing conditions,” “make coverage more expensive,” and force “millions of patients to lose their coverage and go without much-needed care.” S&P concluded that the bill would lead to “580,000 lost jobs and $240 billion in lost economic activity by 2027, ensuring that the GDP growth remains stuck in low gear of around 2% at best in the next decade.” In its preliminary score—the full score won’t be available for weeks—CBO found that “millions” of people would lose their health insurance.
 
We outlined the devastating consequences for women in our RWV newsletters and blog, and in a guest blog for Community Catalyst.
 
Across the nation, Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinators and supporters worked hard to get the word out!
 
In Wisconsin, our regional coordinator, Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, participated in the Wisconsin Health Matters’ six-hour-long speak-out-a-thon to help raise awareness of what was at stake in the latest ACA repeal bill. This online event featured advocates sharing how a variety of communities -- including women, children, the disabled, the aging, cancer patients and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault – would be negatively affected.  Under the bill, at least 414,000 Wisconsinites would have lost coverage by 2027 and Wisconsin would have seen a $29 billion cut in Medicaid over two decades. "It was amazing! The six hours flew by and we reached over 4,000 people through Facebook. Over 40 people shared our event on Facebook!" said Sara Finger, Founder & Executive Director, Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health (shown at right in photo).

Our Charleston-based regional coordinator,WV FREE, participated in a press conference to draw attention to the threat the new Republican repeal plan would have posed to West Virginians. Under the Graham-Cassidy bill, West Virginia would have lost $1 billion in the next decade, and $27 billionover the next two decades. During that time,156,000 people, or one out of every twelve West Virginians, would have lost their health insurance.  WV FREE also attended a Medicaid summit, where they and their coalition partners discussed the future of Medicaid in West Virginia – a state that has hugely benefited from expansion under the ACA – and strategized about how to defend it from federal attacks like Graham-Cassidy. An example of one of their campaign material is pictured left.
 
Meanwhile, Maura Collinsgru, Health Care Program Director at New Jersey Citizen Action, the RWV coordinator for that state, spoke at a September 22 rally against the Graham-Cassidy bill held at Newark City Hall (pictured right). Graham-Cassidy would “undermine the progress we have made in achieving historically low rates of uninsured people,” Maura told the crowd. “Here in New Jersey, we have 900,000 people who have coverage directly as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” Maura said. See Maura’s full speech here.
 
Celebrate, but we must stay vigilant!
 
There are two important things we’ve learned this year:

First, the Trumpcare zombie never truly dies, which is why we are keeping this graphic on hand for future use.  
 
But second, grassroots action can keep pushing Trumpcare back into the grave. 
 
So, what’s likely to be our next challenge?On September 30, the 2017, fiscal year will die, killing the FY 2017 reconciliation package (which was the vehicle through which Graham-Cassidy could have been enacted with just 50 senators voting yes). But congressional Republicans are already plotting their next scheme to ram through ACA repeal in a partisan process by tying it to tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.
 
Back in January, Republicans in Congress announced a plan to use an FY 2017 reconciliation package to kill the ACA by Easter, and then use another reconciliation package for FY 2018 to enact deep tax cuts by August. Now some Republicans want to combine the two strategies into one.
 
Reconciliation is the parliamentary tool that lets Senate Republicans bypass a Democratic filibuster. But it’s not an easy or immediate process. In order to authorize reconciliation, each chamber must pass an identical budget resolution. Budget resolutions aren’t spending bills and they never become law. Rather, they serve as blueprints for big picture decisions about taxes, spending, and the debt. In 2016, Republicans couldn’t pass one at all—which, ironically, is why they could attempt two resolutions this year.
 
As of now, the House Budget Committee has passed an FY 2018 resolution that would authorize a reconciliation package of deep tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy paid for by equally deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid (on top of the ACA and Medicaid cuts that House Republicans assumed would be law by now).
 
The Senate Budget Committee is expected to vote on a resolution next week that would authorize deep tax cuts and increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion. But two Budget Committee members, Senators Lindsey Graham and Ron Johnson (of Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson infamy), have said they will block any resolution that doesn’t also authorize another round of attacks on the ACA. To move forward, Republicans will need to resolve differences between the two houses and between those Republicans who aren’t ready to give up on the ACA fight and those who don’t want to jeopardize the tax cut bill with another toxic health care fight.
 
But even with the possibility that Congress will tackle another ACA repeal attempt sometime next year, there are some glimmers of hope that the bipartisan market stabilization package quashed during the rush to Graham-Cassidy could be picking up steam again. You may recall that in early September, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held two weeks of hearings on a bipartisan plan to fund cost-sharing reductions and a national reinsurance program, taking testimony from governors and state health officials from both parties. HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was strong-armed into stopping the talkswhile his leadership whipped up support for Graham-Cassidy. But with that effort dead, Alexander announced yesterday that talks would be resuming.
 
Quick action on a stabilization package is important to ensure that enough insurers are participating in the healthcare.gov marketplace when open enrollment opens Nov. 1! We were troubled by HHS action yesterday to extend the deadline from today until right before open enrollment for insurers to sign contracts to participate in the marketplace.
 
 
 
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