Press Release: Thousands Urge Senate to Reject the Repeal Bill and Attempts to Buy Votes with Backroom Deals at Dozens of Events Nationwide

For Immediate Release: July 5, 2017
Contact: Robyn Shapiro, robyn.shapiro@berlinrosen.com, 202-800-7407 

Thousands Urge Senate to Reject the Repeal Bill and Attempts to Buy Votes with Backroom Deals at Dozens of Events Nationwide

National Day of Action Protests Call on Senate to #KillTheBill, #SaveOurCare and Highlighted New Analysis with State Breakdowns of the Bill’s Impact

On Coverage Losses and Tax Breaks for the Rich

As Congress broke for the July 4th recess, thousands called today on key senators at dozens of events across the country to kill the GOP plan to take away health care from an estimated 22 million Americans, end Medicaid as we know it, and raise costs for consumers to pay for $541 billion in tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.

The protestors decried efforts in the Senate to exchange carveouts and special favors for votes that would ultimately do nothing to help millions of Americans across the country who will lose care under this plan. The events also highlighted new fact sheets from Americans for Tax Fairness and Health Care for America Now (HCAN) showing the numbers of those in each state who would lose coverage, including the breakdown by type of Medicaid patient, and the average tax cut to millionaires in each state, based on data from the Center for American Progress.

“Another week of backroom deals and bribery won’t help the millions who will lose their health care. There are no small changes or special carveouts that will fix a repeal plan that is fundamentally flawed,” said Ethan Rome and Margarida Jorge, co-directors of Health Care for America Now. “Americans from red states and blue states are calling on their senators to do the right thing for those they’re elected to represent and reject this disastrous bill and any attempt to buy their vote.”

The national “Kill the Bill, Save Our Care” Day of Action led by Health Care for America Now partners across the country featured more than 30 events in 17 states, including events targeting moderate House Republicans who would be required to vote on the repeal bill again if it is sent to them by the Senate. Highlights from the events across the country included:

  • A tractorcade from a church to the courthouse in Nashville followed by a press conference highlighting the impact of the repeal bill on rural communities and rural hospitals;
  • A joint action with Ohioans and West Virginians targeting Sens. Capito and Portman on the Williamstown Bridge, which connects the two states; 
  • A rally in Madison, Wis., calling on Sen. Johnson to oppose the Republican repeal bill;
  • A press conference with clergy, doctors and the CEO of Hamilton Health Clinic in Flint, Mich.;
  • An empty chair town hall in Missouri; and
  • A series of health care vigils in New Jersey.

After weeks of secret deliberations, the Senate repeal bill still closely mirrors the House repeal bill the public has roundly rejected. It weakens coverage and consumer protections for everyone with private insurance; eliminates Medicaid expansion; and ends Medicaid’s guarantee of coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities who had Medicaid even before the Affordable Care Act. And it makes those cuts to pay for $541 billion in tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. During the Senate vote delay, Republican Senate leadership is scrambling to cut last-minute deals to buy the votes needed to claim a political win, but these changes around the edges of the bill do nothing to change the devastating impacts of the bill. 

Ending Medicaid expansion alone would take health care away from up to 11 million Americans, but the Senate isn’t stopping there. The Senate bill radically restructures the federal funding for the basic Medicaid program to starve it over the years, forcing eligibility and benefit cuts, creating huge burdens for state budgets, closing hospitals and costing millions of health care jobs. Its permanent cuts are even deeper than in the House bill. CBO estimates that 15 million Americans will lose their Medicaid coverage by 2026 under the Senate bill.

Medicaid provides coverage to one in five Americans, including 30 million children. It pays for half the births in the United States, 75% of all family planning services, 64% of nursing home care, and 30% of all care for people with disabilities. Nearly 2 million veterans get health care through Medicaid. Medicaid also costs far less per beneficiary than either Medicare or private health insurance, and itscosts have been rising more slowly than private insurance.

The Republican bill’s radical changes to Medicaid funding will cripple states facing health emergencies like the opioid crisis. It will be up to each state alone to manage health care emergencies without additional support from the federal government.

And the Senate is making these cuts to pay for tax breaks for insurance and prescription drug companies, breaks which are particularly egregious given rising profits over the past several years. The eight biggest insurance companies increased profits by one-third from 2011 to 2015, rising from $19.1 billion to $25.3 billion. The average cost of brand name drugs widely used by older Americans for chronic conditions more than tripled between 2006 and 2015, climbing from $1,788 to $5,897 according to a recent report from AARP.

National organizations including AARP, the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Council of Bishops, the March of Dimes and many other groups oppose the repeal bill. Recent polls confirm that voters also oppose this repeal by a three to one margin and it is the single least popular piece of federal legislation in decades.

 

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Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is the national grassroots coalition that ran a $60 million five-and-a-half year campaign from 2008-2013 to pass, protect, and promote the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and protect Medicare and Medicaid. HCAN has come back together to fight the Republicans’ all-out effort to take away America’s health care and put people at the mercy of the health insurance companies again.