Friday, May 5, 2017

American Health Care Act isn't a done deal yet, and your Senators still have a say

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 10:47 AM

President Donald Trump and House Republicans gathered in the Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon to back-pat and guffaw in triumph, like a football team that just won the big game.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. House of Representatives had passed an updated version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA, or popularly, ACHA) — a bill to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. So, how do you celebrate when you attach your name and reputation to a policy that would force sick people to pay exorbitant premiums, kick disabled kids of Medicaid, and turn the mere fact of being a woman into a pre-existing condition? Like this, apparently:

Now, you may be thinking to yourself: wait, why are they acting like they just did something historic? Didn't the legislation just pass one chamber of one branch of government? How does a bill become law, again?

Ah, yes, that's right. Now, AHCA heads over to the Senate where it's almost sure to face a stricter level of scrutiny than in the House where members didn't bother to wait for the Congressional Budget Office to analyze and score the complex legislation. Indeed, the New York Times today described a skeptical Senate with this memorable lede:

As House Republicans on Thursday shoved their health care bill across the finish line, stuffing it with amendments and extra dollars to secure a hard-won majority, the lawmakers who will inherit the legislation delivered their own message from across the Capitol:

That’s cute.
In more serious terms, Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican from South Carolina, told the Times that "any bill that has been posted less than 24 hours — going to be debated three or four hours, not scored — needs to be viewed with suspicion." And aside from Senate Republicans' insistence on restraint and rigor in policymaking, they also face a procedural challenge in that they only have a 52-48 majority — enough to pass the bill by simple majority with only minor tax and spending tweaks, but not to make any major policy adjustments through reconciliation with Democrats.

click to enlarge 1200px-cory_gardner_official_portrait_112th_congress.jpg
In the most precarious position here are moderate Senate Republicans from purple states where people really want to keep their health insurance, like, say, our own Sen. Cory Gardner. His position on the bill has been characteristically tough to pin down. This Westword article describes some of the Senator's mixed signals on the matter, including his signature on a letter to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell decrying AHCA's approach to Medicaid and his Facebook posts harping on the evils of Obamacare.

There's time to tell Sen. Gardner, who's up for re-election in 2020, what you, as a constituent who'll cast a vote in said election, want him to do. Here's how to reach his local office — 719-632-6706 — his D.C. office — 202-224-5941 — and every other office he has.

Say you get through calling, writing, and assorted other hand-wringing and still have more to express about the direction America's health care policy is headed. You may find kindred spirits at this "No Trumpcare" rally on Sunday at 5 p.m. outside City Hall. Per the hosts, Unite Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Feminists, Pikes Peak Progressives, El Paso County Democratic Party - Peak Dems, Colorado Action Network - Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Socialists — here's the call:

Today, the GOP-controlled house, including Congressman Doug Lamborn, voted to kick 24 million people off their health insurance and throw our country into chaos. This egregious piece of legislation, the American Healthcare Act, aka Trumpcare, will effectively dismantle the Affordable Care Act and undo the very real progress in healthcare reform made over the past 8 years. Although the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, Trumpcare is a disaster that will only benefit insurance companies at the cost of the lives and wellbeing of millions of Americans.

This legislation will disproportionately and negatively affect the elderly, children, communities of color, women, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and poor and working people of all backgrounds around this country. Trumpcare is a crime against humanity and every elected official who voted in favor of this legislation needs to know where the American people truly stand. That is why necessity dictates that we the people once again express our right to peaceful public assembly and to petition our government for a redress of grievances by rallying in opposition to Trumpcare and in favor of a single-payer, medicare-for-all healthcare system.

Trumpcare now moves to the Senate, and it is more important now than ever that the people show massive opposition to this legislation both in the streets and by lighting up the phone lines to demand that our senators prevent this legislation from ever reaching the president's desk by any means necessary. Join us for a rally in front of City Hall on Sunday, May 7th at 5pm to demand that Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Cory Gardnerstand up for the people of Colorado and oppose Trumpcare in the Senate. After hearing from speakers at City Hall, we will march to Sen. Gardner's office.

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