We don’t have to tell you how much is at stake if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed. You know people like Ashley, a young adult from West Virginia who was diagnosed with Lupus just when the ACA went into effect. Ashley benefited from being covered under her mother’s health plan until age 26 and then got coverage through her state’s Medicaid expansion. If the ACA is repealed, she says, “It’s basically signing my death certificate.”
The people who don’t seem to realize this are the members of Congress who’ve been working to take away our health coverage by repealing the ACA. That’s why we must speak out when they come home for a week of recess starting Saturday.
This week, Republican leaders in the House rolled out their blueprint for replacing the ACA based on Speaker Paul Ryan’s ironically-named “Better Way” plan from last year. And just like last year, the new proposal lacks critical details, includes no legislative text, stays silent on how Republicans intend to pay for their plan and offers no estimates on how many people will be covered.
But what the GOP proposal does say will alarm voters who’ve been expecting a “terrific” and “wonderful” plan that “covers everyone.” Ryan’s team circulated talking points to help rank-and-file Republicans explain the plan to their constituents back in their home district during the Congressional recess that starts tomorrow, Saturday. We can’t wait to hear what these members of Congress have to say.
While the ACA gives low- and middle-income families help in purchasing private insurance—with more help given to those who need it most—the GOP plan includes a tax credit that varies with age, but not income. We’re eager to hear Congressmen explain why a 70-year-old billionaire should get more help from the government to purchase health insurance than a 40-year-old waitress.
While the ACA expanded Medicaid to millions of low-income Americans, the GOP plan slashes that funding almost in half, which would force states to kick these newly-insured working poor off of their health insurance. Then the GOP plan goes even further, gutting the federal investment in original Medicaid, which would force states to ration care for children, pregnant women, disabled individuals, and seniors needing long-term care. We’re ready to hear how Republicans from the 31 states that have expanded Medicaid will explain slashing one of the most popular parts of the ACA.
While the ACA provided strong protections against discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, limited out-of-pocket expenses and eliminated annual and lifetime caps on coverage, the GOP plan scraps these strong consumer protections. In the case of pre-existing conditions, the GOP plan only protects those who maintain “continuous coverage.” We’re keen to hear Congress members explain why a woman who loses her job during chemotherapy and can’t pay her premiums should be denied health insurance indefinitely because she couldn’t maintain continuous coverage while battling cancer.
In the case of out-of-pocket expenses and caps on coverage, the GOP plan simply eliminates these “burdensome regulations” altogether. We want to hear why insurance companies should be allowed to cut off coverage for a premature infant in the NICU who exceeds his lifetime coverage limit in a month.
“They want to drag us back to the days when people died because they couldn’t afford medical care,” said U.S. Rep. Robin Kelley, D-Illinois, Chair of the Health Brain Trust of the Congressional Black Caucus. She spoke Thursday at the Families USA health reform conference in Washington.
What can you do stop them from taking away our health care?
Starting this Saturday, your members of Congress will be home in their districts for a week-long recess. This is your chance to speak out!
We’ve come up with some ways for you to get involved, both on-line and on the ground. Saturday has been declared a National Day of Action in defense of the ACA, Medicaid, and Medicare. Raising Women’s Voices has chosen that day to launch a new round of our successful social media campaign, #IfILoseCoverage.
We will provide social media “badges” for you to share, like this one telling the story of Kelsie from Hauser, Oregon. As a 21-year-old with a low income, she depends on no-cost birth control to help her avoid having another baby too soon. She and her son rely on Medicaid for their health care, and she worries they could lose their coverage. You can find these badges on our Facebook page each day.
On Feb. 23, we will use Throwback Thursday on social media to send tweets like this:
- #WorstTBTEver to the bad old days when women skimped on care because we could not afford it. #ProtectOurCare
- Remember when women were charged more than men for the same health coverage before the #ACA became law? #WorstTBTEver
Tell your story about how ACA repeal would affect you or people you know. Go to our If I Lose Coverage page to download a template of the sign that you can print and use. Then take a photo like this one, and post it during the February recess. Tweet it at your member of Congress!
Even better, speak out at a Congressional town hall meeting!
Find out whether there are any town halls with Members of Congress scheduled near you. The Town Hall 2018 Project has a new website that is tracking all the scheduled meetings. Moveon.org has made it even easier with its new ResistanceRecess.com! You’ll be able to:
- RSVP for a public event with a member of Congress near you. Allies are tracking all town halls and other public appearances by Senators and Representatives.
- Sign up for a training on “bird-dogging” members of Congress who are trying to avoid protestors and making the most of the public events run by experienced MoveOn.org organizers.
- Download materials that will offer helpful suggestions on how to make these events into political turning-point moments—from telling your personal story to your member of Congress to broadcasting your interactions with lawmakers via Facebook Live.
- Create an event targeting any member of Congress. If your lawmaker hasn’t scheduled a public event, you can create something yourself, like a vigil outside their office. Register an event of your own and recruit participants for it through the website.
RWV Regional Coordinator New Jersey Citizen Action has been holding weekly vigils outside the district offices of Republican members of Congress. Protesters have delivered letters to Congressmen requesting meetings, town halls and a public statement of support for the coverage expansions and key protections of the ACA.
The pressure seems to be having some impact, according to Citizen Action’s Maura Collinsgru. Congressman Leonard Lance, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee that will draft the repeal language, scheduled a town hall after these protestors marched outside his district office in Flemington. The vigils have also generated a lot of media interest. Repeal of the ACA would mean the loss of coverage for nearly 800,000 New Jerseyans covered by the Medicaid expansion and Marketplace plans.
Some of the events our regional coordinators are sponsoring in the weeks ahead include these:
- Consumer Health First, our regional coordinator in Maryland, has two ACA Town Hall events planned over February recess. Among the speakers at the February 21 Town Hall Educational Forum will be Consumer Health First’s Executive Director, Jeananne Sciabarra. They will explain how the ACA has improved coverage, provide details of proposed plans to replace the ACA and explain the implications of repeal/replace for addiction treatment and mental health care. They have extended a special invitation to Congressman Andy Harris to address the forum.
- Consumer Health First is also partnering with Dr. Donte Hickman of Southern Baptist Church to hold a discussion during Sunday noon worship about health equity and the effort to preserve the Affordable Care Act for all. Health Care: The Continued Path to Freedom and Justice will explore how the Affordable Care Act has impacted health disparities within the African American community.
- SisterReach, the Memphis-based Tennessee regional coordinator for RWV, is joining with Black Lives Matter Memphis and state coalition partners for a “Black Folks Day on the Hill” at the Tennessee State Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Among the topics they will discuss with state lawmakers are reproductive justice and health care. Participation is free and there are transportation options for supporters from all major cities in Tennessee. If you would like to participate, you must rsvp.
Meanwhile, RWV regional coordinators continue to show up to greet the Save Our Care bus when it comes to their states. Joan Lamunyon Sanford of the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice was there when the bus stopped in Albuquerque on Wednesday. She’s in the center of the photo, in a blue shirt holding a sign that says “Obamacare Saves Lives.”
Want to join a rally when the Save Our Care bus gets to your city? The bus will be in Atlanta on Feb. 20, Nashville on Feb. 22 and Tallahassee, FL. on Feb. 23. Check out upcoming dates and ways to get involved on their website.