we worry about losing our coverage
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), had the first of two confirmation hearings yesterday. Questioning of Price by Senate Democrats provided insight into Republicans’ impossible predicament on ACA repeal. Price dodged questions about whether children would be allowed to stay on their parents’ health plans through age 26, refused to say whether he supports Trump’s proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and sidestepped direct questions about cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.
When questioned about Trump’s statement "We're going to have insurance for everybody," Price gave the most telling answer of the day: “I think it is imperative we have a system in place that … allows for every single American to have the opportunity to gain access for the coverage they want.” The “opportunity” to “gain access” someday (and at what price to the individual?) is very different from the ACA’s achievement of significantly increasing coverage. We’ve written about Price’s extreme views before, but the hearing made clear the differences between the incoming president, some of his own cabinet nominees, Congressional Republicans, and what a majority of Americans have repeatedly said they want.
The heat is on more moderate Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who were already concerned about the idea of passing a repeal bill before a replacement plan can be passed simultaneously. In Collins’ home state over the weekend, RWV regional coordinator Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC) participated in a rally at City Hall in Portland, organized by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree. “Before the Affordable Care Act, too many Mainers had to gamble that they stay healthy and out of debt by going without insurance. We can’t ask Maine people to put their health on the line to cover Congress’s reckless bets,” said Emily Brostek, CAHC Executive Director. “We urge Congress to let common sense prevail and reject any effort to repeal the ACA that does not include a strong, viable replacement.”
Collins is set to introduce a proposed replacement plan on Monday that underscores just how complicated Republicans’ path forward will be. House co-lead on the bill, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), promised that under their plan, “each state could opt to stay in Obamacare,” and Collins assured that the funding would remain the same. But we saw what happened when states got the option of whether or not to expand Medicaid, and we would fight any proposal to take coverage guarantees away from women and families because they live on the wrong side of a state border. But that’s not the biggest stumbling block to proposals like these.
So what is? A majority of Republicans in Congress want to see the ACA’s funding repealed as soon as possible, which would gut Collins’ proposal. Arguably one of the biggest drivers behind ACA repeal is that it will provide a massive tax cut to the wealthiest households in America. That’s one big reason why Republicans like Tom Price and Paul Ryan have consistently called for “access” to purchase insurance and not “guaranteed coverage.” Actually ensuring coverage to millions of Americans is expensive, and conservatives have balked at paying for it. Most Democrats won’t vote for a plan that moves backward, while many Republicans won’t vote for a plan that spends as much as the ACA does on coverage.
We’re working with allies to make visible our fight to save our health care, through rallies and other events around the country. In Portland, Oregon, Hannah Rosenau, pictured at left, of the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health was at a rally on Sunday. About 2,000 people rallied with U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
In Houston, TX, Aurora Harris of the Lesbian Health Initiative participated in a rally with her Congresswoman, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. They are shown in the photo at right (Harris at left and Lee at right).
Sarah Howell of Montana Women Vote spoke at a rally in Missoula on Sunday: “Over the past five years, we’ve come a long way from the dark days of 2012. But if the ACA is repealed, we’re going to turn around and shoot back into those dark days real fast. And we’re going to go much further back.” She was quoted in the Missoula Current.
In Maryland, Consumer Health First was represented at a rally to save the ACA. Pictured in photo at left are CHF Executive Director Jeananne Sciabarra (left) and founder Leni Preston (right) with U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen.
Raising Women’s Voices will be represented by one of our co-founding organizations, the National Women’s Health Network, in the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. on Saturday. “The Women’s March has grown to encompass 340 sister marches and 30 international marches,” said National March co-chair Carmen Perez in a conference call yesterday. “We’re not only anticipating a large crowd in Washington, DC, we expect that there will be one million people marching around the globe.”
RWV co-founder and NWHN Executive Director Cindy Pearson says, “It’s no fun being in DC for the inauguration, but we’re really looking forward to this March. We’ll be there will our signs and posters, speaking up for the ACA and women’s health.” The March will start off with a rally with speakers and performers. The actual March will take supporters down Independence and Constitution Avenues, past the Washington Monument, and culminate near the White House, on The Ellipse. We don’t know if the new President is planning to spend his first weekend in the White House, but we do know wherever he’ll be on Saturday, he won’t be able to miss the message – women’s rights are human rights!
In President-elect Donald Trump’s hometown of New York City, Raising Women’s Voices-NY will be in the lead contingent of the Women’s March on NYC, which will go from the United Nations to Trump Tower. RWV-NY is partnering with the Reproductive Health Access Project to host a pre-march sign making party. Elsewhere in the country, the RWV regional coordinator in Michigan, Dizzy Warren of Enroll Michigan, will be speaking at a march in her home state and the Executive Director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), Laura Jimenez, will be speaking at the march in Los Angeles.
The Afiya Center will be participating in the Dallas march and the Feminist Women’s Health Center will be marching in Atlanta. Montana Women Vote will be marching at the state capitol in Missoula. WV Free will be tabling at their local march in West Virginia, and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts will be marching in Boston. In Portland, Oregon, OFRH is hosting a prep and poster making party at their office, where OFRH will provide information to volunteers about the risks to women’s health posed by the new administration and the repeal of the ACA. Hannah Rosenau, OFRH’s Program Director, will also be speaking at a post-march benefit dance party about the need for state level protections like Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act.