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Friday
Aug032018

Congress is back home. Time to speak out!

Ask Your Members of Congress to Protect Our Care!
 
Members of Congress are back in their home districts for a recess that extends to the end of next week. That means we have the opportunity to engage directly with them, such as by showing up at scheduled town hall meetings.  Ask them to protect our care and hold them accountable as we face continuing threats to our health care!
 
Check out this website from Indivisible to find out if your member of Congress will be hosting a town hall near you. Some of these meetings are taking place as early as today, and continue over the weekend and into next week. If there is no town hall meeting near you, you can go here for assistance with setting up an in-person meeting at the district office of your member of Congress.
 
What are some specific issues you could raise when talking with your member of Congress? Protections for people with pre-existing conditions are under attack from alawsuit, Texas v. US Dept of HHS, filed by group of Attorneys General from conservative states hostile to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Trump administration has refused to defend the ACA against this lawsuit, meaning the law’s prohibition against denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions is at risk. So, Democratic members of the House and the Senate have both introduced resolutions to take action and join a group of Attorneys General from progressive states who are defending the ACA’s requirements. Ask your members of Congress to make a commitment to protecting health care consumers by signing on to these resolutions.
 
That court case is also a reason to be concerned about Trump’s nomination of conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Some analysts believe his past record of decisions indicates he might vote to overturn the ACA, should the Texas case reach the high court. Moreover, Kavanaugh is considered likely to vote to undermine or even overturn Roe v. Wade, should the opportunity arise in a case brought to the Supreme Court.
 
Confirmation hearings in the Senate could begin as early as next month, which means this recess could be last chance for Senators to hear their constituents’ concerns about Kavanaugh before the final vote. Take this Congressional recess as a chance to reach out to your Senators, and remind them what’s at stake for women and LGBTQ people with Trump’s SCOTUS pick. 
 
Members of the House of Representatives and a number of Senators are also running for re-election this year, and there are lively contests in most states. This week is a good opportunity to ask both the incumbents and their challengers about their views on key health care issues. FamiliesUSA has compiled a list of important questions to ask candidates about health care, which you can find here.
 
Take action against “junk” health plans!
 
On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services released a final rule to expand the sale of more junk health plans – this time, in the form of short-term health plans. The final rule allows insurers to sell short-term plans for a period of just less than 12 months (compared to a 3-month limit now) and to renew the policies for up to 3 years. These junk plans are likely to be available starting this October.
 
Short-term plans aren’t required to cover the 10 essential health benefits, such as maternity care, prescription drugs and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. They can also charge higher premiums or deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Like all the other moves by the Trump administration to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, the expansion of short-term health plans will drive up premiums and may make comprehnsive coverage unaffordable. These junk plans won’t cover what women need!

What can you do now?  You could ask your member of Congress to support a just-announced effort by Senate Democrats to try to scrap the Trump administration's new rule on short-term health plans. They will try to pass a Congressional resolution to overturn the rule. It’s an uphill fight, though, as such a resolution must be passed by a majority vote in both chambers of Congress, which are currently controlled by Republicans  Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) plans to introduce the long-shot resolution within 60 days of the regulations being submitted to Congress."The Trump administration's new rule expands plans that are nothing short of junk insurance, and Democrats in the Senate will do everything in our power to stop it," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.  

There are also things you can do at the state level. Call your governor and state legislators and urge them to pass policies to regulate short-term health plans and to ensure consumer protections. EverThrive Illinois, RWV’s Chicago-based RC, has been working as part of the Protect Our Care Illinois coalition to define and regulate short-term plans through HB2624- the Short Term Limited Duration Health Insurance Coverage Act, which would help protect Illinois consumers from the Trump administration’s regulatory actions. HB2624 limits the sale of short-term health plans in Illinois to 180 days in any given year and would eliminate confusion by requiring insurers who sell short-term plans in Illinois to have clear, plain language on all sales and marketing materials. The bill has made it to Governor Rauner’s desk, where it is awaiting his signature.
 
Protect Our Care Illinois is launching a statewide day of action on Monday, August 6, to drive calls Governor Rauner asking him to sign HB2624 to protect Illinois consumers from plans that would expose them to high medical debt and coverage that will not cover all of their needs.

 

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