Missourians express hope and relief following defeat of Senate health care bill

For Immediate Release: July 28, 2017

Late Thursday night, the U.S. Senate voted 51-49 to defeat the third proposal to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. For now, Congressional efforts to advance legislation that dismantles the Affordable Care Act have failed.

Throughout the state, Missourians had been watching the debate closely, knowing that their health care and that of their loved ones was at stake.

Lucinda Cobb, whose daughter Laura receives care through a Health Insurance Marketplace plan for health conditions resulting from a collision with a drunk driver, was active in efforts to stop the bill. “Laura has made so much progress in the eight years since she was hit by a drunk driver at Washington University. The care she has received thanks the Affordable Care Act actually allowed her to finish her degree this year and secure a job. We’ve watched every step of this debate, knowing that a roll-back of the protections of the ACA would be devastating to her continued recovery. We will sleep more easily tonight knowing that health care for Americans with pre-existing conditions is safe for the moment.”

Lexi Amos, a Springfield mom whose two children rely on Medicaid, also expressed relief. “Medicaid keeps both my children healthy. It’s especially critical for my son, who has special needs. The care he gets through Medicaid helps him stay out of the hospital and in school. We’ve been very worried about what would happen to his care if Congress had passed a bill with huge cuts to Medicaid.”

Jen Bersdale, Executive Director of Missouri Health Care for All, credits the bill’s defeat to the many Americans who spoke out against it. “With Congressional leaders and a President committed to dismantling the Affordable Care Act, many people worried at the beginning of this year that there was nothing we could do to save our health care. This week, we proved once again that when ordinary people raise their voices, it makes a difference.”

Crystal Brigman Mahaney, Deputy Director of Missouri Health Care for All, notes that there will be more health care debates ahead. “Even as we celebrate the defeat of this health care bill, we know Congress is considering making deep cuts to Medicaid through its budget process. All those who care about access to health care should continue to speak up against cuts.”

Sarah Gentry, Policy Director of Missouri Health Care for All, notes that many leaders and citizens are calling for bipartisan cooperation to improve our health care system. “There are many things Congress could do to improve the quality and affordability of our health care system, beginning with stabilizing the insurance markets that have been affected by the uncertainty about looming policy changes. These issues affect Americans across the political spectrum, which is why we are heartened to see elected officials from across the political spectrum calling for a transparent, nonpartisan dialogue about health care. We hope Senator McCaskill and Senator Blunt will be part of efforts to bring leaders together around making positive changes.”

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We’re in this for the long haul – will you chip in?

Thursday, July 27, 4:00 pm

We are just hours away from the U.S. Senate voting on its latest plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Like every other plan we’ve seen, this one would raise premiums and strip millions of Americans of their health insurance.

Regardless of what happens this week, our work is not over. There are more battles to come in both Washington, DC and Jefferson City.

Like so many of the people urging our legislators to save the ACA and save Medicaid, our efforts to protect our health care programs began years ago. And like so many other people, we won’t quit until we’ve secured what’s working and fixed what’s broken in health care.

We’re fighting on more fronts than ever before, and the stakes have never been higher. Will you chip in? Your tax-deductible donation will make sure we have the resources we need to defend our health care.

Please click here to make a donation: https://missourihealthcareforall.org/donate/

Thank you in advance for anything you can give.

Sincerely,

Jen Bersdale
Executive Director
Missouri Health Care for All

 

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Senate to vote on “skinny” Trojan horse bill

Senate Update – Thursday, July 27, 10:30 am

The Senate has now defeated two of its health care proposals – one to “repeal and replace” the ACA and gut Medicaid (also known as the “Better Care Reconciliation Act”) and one to “repeal and not replace” major sections of the ACA.

Senate leadership has one more trick to try to keep alive their efforts to decimate our health care system. They’re calling it “Skinny Repeal.” It’s deceptive, dangerous, and the end goal is anything but skinny.

Under this plan, Senators will vote on a stripped down “repeal” proposal that repeals only three parts of the Affordable Care Act: the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and the tax on medical device manufacturers. These are among the least popular parts of the current law, which is why Senator McConnell and other leaders hope they can at last get a majority vote to move it forward.

The “Skinny Repeal” plan is bad enough – it would lead to 16 million fewer Americans having health insurance. But that’s not the real problem. As soon as the Senate passes “Skinny Repeal,” Senator McConnell and Representative Ryan will retreat behind closed doors to craft a “compromise” bill that the House and Senate will be asked to pass. The bill they write will look nothing like “Skinny Repeal.” In fact, senators have already said that the deeply unpopular House “American Health Care Act” bill would serve as the starting point. That means Skinny Repeal will lead directly back to a proposal that slashes premium subsidies, weakens consumer protections, and ends Medicaid as we know it.

It’s hard to see how taking a bill that would lead to 23 million Americans losing their health insurance and giving two people the power to turn it into a final proposal with no transparency is going to make our health care system better.

Any Senator who has ever said, “I need to see the legislation before I decide how I will vote” should vote NO on so-called Skinny Repeal. Any Senator who cares about health care should vote NO. And any Senator who cares about transparency and responsibility in governing should vote NO. This bill is nothing but a shell to allow Congress to keep advancing policies that would destroy our country’s health care system.

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What to do after you call your senators

We hear this question a lot: “Should I really keep calling Blunt and McCaskill about the health care bill?” As long as they’ve got votes left to take, they should continue to receive reminders about what their constituents want them to do.
 
You don’t have to stop after you call Senators Blunt and McCaskill. If you’re looking for something else to do after you’ve made your calls: Consider reaching out to friends in the following states and make sure they’ve called too. These are the Senators who most need pressure to vote no on the so-called “Skinny Repeal” bill.
 
People should tell these Senators: We know that Skinny Repeal will lead right back to the American Health Care Act, with deep Medicaid cuts and millions losing coverage. Please do what’s right for our state and vote no.
 
Who do you know in the following states who can call, e-mail, or tweet at their Senators (ideally, do all three)?
Remember, you can call any Senator by calling (202) 224-3121 and asking to be connected to that Senator’s office.
Want to do even more? Indivisible has a website set up where you can call voters in key states and ask them to call their Senators. You can volunteer for as much or as little time as you have. Click here for more information.
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Senate defeats “partial repeal” proposal

Wednesday, July 26, 3:30 pm

This afternoon, the U.S. Senate voted on the second of its Affordable Care Act “repeal” proposals. As expected, the vote failed.

The proposal defeated today goes by many names – “partial repeal,” “full repeal,” “repeal and delay,” “repeal and don’t replace.” It would have rolled back much of the Affordable Care Act without any kind of replacement, leading to 32 million Americans losing their insurance.

The final vote was 55 no to 45 yes. Seven Republican Senators joined all 48 Democrat Senators in voting no.

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (R) voted yes, while Senator Claire McCaskill (D) voted no.

We expect debate and voting on health care bills to continue through the end of this week. We continue to hear that the Senate may move soon to voting on a so-called “Skinny Repeal” amendment. Health care supporters should not be fooled – while the “skinny repeal” proposal may look like a less ambitious roll-back of the ACA (though still resulting in loss of coverage for 15 million people), it is actually a Trojan horse. The entire goal of so-called “skinny repeal” to pass something (anything!) out of the Senate so that Senator McConnell and Representative Ryan can begin closed door negotiations on a bill both the House and Senate will then be asked to adopt.

Keep making those calls and telling our Senators to vote NO on any kind of ACA repeal!

 

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Real people’s lives are at stake: Bill’s Story

Lifelong Missourian Pamela shared this story when she called Senator Blunt:

“I’m calling again to make sure you understand what’s at stake for me and my family in the healthcare debate. I grew up in Missouri, the youngest of three. My older brother has autism and depends on Medicaid for care. When I was in grade school, my mother showed me a report on Willowbrook, a mental hospital where patients were left to rot in their own waste, naked and unattended for days on end. My mother looked me in the eye, told me that she’s fighting to keep my brother out of an institution because of inhumane care, and explained that one day this fight would be mine. That day is now.

I’m fighting hard to ensure my brother is the first man in our family to live past 62 years old. I spend hours on his health, his quality of life, his daily community involvement. And the last thing I need is less funding, less support, and fewer options. I’m calling to tell you that I will be relentless in this quest…because my mother was, my father was, and my brother deserves it.

My brother’s name is Bill. He’s 47. He loves trains, planes, the smell of vanilla, Kit Kats, lunch meat, walks, and contributing to his community. It took him years to learn to write his name, to use the bathroom, to sign basic requests. He’s amazing. He’s a Missourian. And he is why I’m on the phone talking to you about a reckless healthcare bill no one wants pushed by a historically unpopular president no one likes. This is what’s at stake. Bill’s quality of life and health is at stake. And this story is what I intend to share with you daily. Because I inherited this quest with love and appreciation, and my brother is more than worth it.”

Have you shared the story of how your family would be hurt by the House and Senate health care proposals? Please share your story with Missouri Health Care for All at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SaveOurCare.

And please be sure to share your story with our Senators as well! Call (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to the office of Senator Roy Blunt, and then call again and ask to be connected to the office of Senator Claire McCaskill.

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Senate Health Care Debate Continues

Updates and Explanations

Wednesday, July 26, 9:15 am Central

In case you missed it: Hours after voting to open debate on health care legislation, the Senate voted down their comprehensive “repeal and replace” plan, basically a slightly revised version of the BCRA. Kudos to everyone across the country whose calls helped tank that terrible proposal.

Today, the Senate is expected to move from a terrible plan that would have stripped 22 million Americans of their insurance to a catastrophic plan: They will hold a vote on “repeal without replacing,” which would rob 32 million people of their insurance and double insurance premiums. We don’t expect that plan to pass, but we should still call our senators and tell them to vote no.

If that vote fails, they will move on to some other plan. While it’s theoretically possible they will reveal a plan nobody has seen yet, that seems pretty unlikely. The only remaining plan the GOP has publicly discussed is so-called “skinny repeal,” which would repeal only a handful of provisions. This proposal is a Trojan horse that has nothing to do with anything the GOP intends to make law. (It would “only” lead to 15 million people losing insurance, clearly not enough for the leaders of this effort). Its whole purpose would be to pass “something, anything,” to allow the Senate to move to a conference committee with the House, where they can try once again to craft a bill behind closed doors, with no public transparency.

Sausage-making is rarely pretty, and never less so than when millions of people are waiting to find out if they’ll still have health care next year.

There’s still a lot to happen in this process, possibly several more months. We didn’t win yesterday but we haven’t lost either. Keep those calls going!

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U.S. Senate votes to move to debate on health care bill

July 25, 2017

U.S. Senate votes to move to debate on health care bill

Every proposal strips millions of health care and jeopardizes lives of Missourians

On Tuesday afternoon, July 25, the U.S. Senate voted 51-50 to move to debate on the budget reconciliation bill to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act and slash funding for Medicaid. Vice President Pence provided a tie-breaking vote to allow debate to proceed.

The Senate voted along party lines. All but two Republican Senators voted aye. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined all 48 Democrats and Independents to vote no. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill (D) voted no, while Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (R) voted yes.

Senators voted to proceed to debate despite not knowing what version – or versions – of the bill they will be asked to debate and vote on.

Jen Bersdale, Executive Director of Missouri Health Care for All, says, “It is shameful that 50 Senators and our Vice President voted to bring up a bill when they do not even know what type of legislation they will ultimately be asked to support. Every proposal we have seen – whether it is called the American Health Care Act, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, full repeal, or so-called skinny repeal – does grievous harm to Americans by stripping millions of their health insurance. In doing so, they endanger the very lives of constituents whose cancer will go undetected, whose diabetes will go untreated, and whose heart disease will go unmonitored.”

Bersdale notes, “Even those who are most committed to advancing these proposals do not seem to have arguments to make in favor of their proposals, instead focusing on calls for political party loyalty and continued ad hominem attacks on the Affordable Care Act. These are the wrong considerations for our nation’s leaders as they debate the future of our health care system.”

Regardless of which proposals are ultimately debated and considered, Missouri Health Care for All urges Missouri Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt to vote “NO” on the bill. Until the Senate can craft a proposal that does not lead to millions of people losing their health insurance, the only way to protect Missourians is to oppose this bill.

Sarah Gentry, Policy Director of Missouri Health Care for All, says, “Our Senators should not get distracted by the details around the edges of the various proposals. Every proposal has the same core problems: Loss of health insurance for tens of millions of Americans, higher costs for millions more, and fewer protections for consumers.”

Crystal Brigman Mahaney, Deputy Director of Missouri Health Care for All, urges Senators Blunt and McCaskill to heed the calls of their constituents: “Thousands of Missourians have spoken out against the dangerous health care proposals the Senate will now debate. Missourians sent Senators Blunt and McCaskill to Washington to represent our best interests, and this bill is bad for Missourians. Our Senators should listen to their constituents and vote down any bill that leads to Missourians losing their access to care.”

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Making sense of the news

Making sense of the news

UPDATED Wednesday, July 19

This week has been a whirlwind of health care news. I hope this post helps you make sense of what is happening and how you can help protect health care.

Part I – Where we celebrate

On Monday night, July 17, two more majority party legislators announced they would not support the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). With four of the 52 Republican senators and all 48 Democrat senators opposed, the Senate does not have enough votes to pass the bill. As many people know, the BCRA would have devastated access to health care, which is why so many people contacted Senators to tell them to oppose it.

Stopping the BCRA is a huge victory. This week, we proved once again that when lots of real people raise their voices, we can make a difference. 

Yes, there will be more work to do – see below. But we sustain our movement by celebrating our successes along the way. So, before you read any farther, please take a moment to celebrate!

Part II: Where we remain vigilant

As soon as it became clear that the BCRA could not pass, Senator McConnell announced that he would call for a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act without immediately replacing it – a move that would have led to 32 million Americans losing their insurance. Three majority party senators have announced they will not support this proposal, enough to stop it from proceeding.

Nevertheless, Senator McConnell has announced he will hold a vote on repeal-without-replacing as soon as the week of July 24. He is working to convince Senators to support this vote. Meanwhile, President Trump is meeting with Senators hoping to revive some version of the BCRA.

As long as some elected leaders remain committed to rolling back the protections in the Affordable Care Act or capping and cutting Medicaid funding, we must remain vigilant and active. You can help now by telling your Senators that you are still paying attention and still don’t want them to cut access to health care. Click here to take action.

Part III: Where we call on our leaders to lead

Like most Americans, we have been disheartened to see health care become a partisan political issue. Health care affects every one of us, and we believe we all have a lot more in common on this issue – across lines of party, geography, and economics – than the pundits might lead us to believe. Most of us recognize that our system needs improvements, and most of us want good health care for ourselves and for our neighbors.

This week, a partisan bill to unravel our health care system collapsed. Now it is time for our elected officials to work together to make our system better for everyone. We are inspired that there are elected officials in both parties calling for bipartisan cooperation on real system improvement. In the months to come, we’ll continue calling on our leaders to work for better care for everyone, and we’ll let you know how you can help.

Act Now

Our voices have made a difference. Thank you for lending yours.

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