It’s looking more and more obvious that the Republicans are going to eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without offering any real replacement. Sure, they may say they’re offering a replacement, but it will be some meaningless option such as a “health care savings account,” which basically means you can save some of your copious spare cash for when you have a medical emergency. Or they may offer “access” to insurance, which is what we had before the ACA: if you could find an insurance company that would insure you, “pre-existing conditions,” and all, you could pay whatever they demanded and then when you needed medical care, the insurance company could dump you.
So NOW, and I seriously mean TODAY, is the time to take care of all the medical business you can possibly cram into the next week or so before ACA goes away. Get your eyes examined and get new glasses. See the dentist and get that crown. Have the knee replacement you’ve been putting off. If you think you can’t afford those things now, just wait until the Republicans take away your insurance. Also, many plans will only allow you to refill prescriptions a few days before your monthly supply runs out. Find out how far in advance you can refill your prescriptions and do it on the first allowed day.
NOW is also the time to do everything that you can do on your own to protect your health. Get enough sleep and some fresh air. Eat fruits and vegetables. Get whatever exercise your physical condition allows. There’s a chance that, if we can take back the House and Senate in 2018, we may be able to reinstitute something similar to ACA, but you’ve got to survive the next two+ years, first.
Take out your cell phone; we’re going to add some numbers to your speed-dial. You need to have the phone numbers of your two United States Senators and your one Congressperson entered into your phone so that you can call them at least once a week. Phone calls are much more effective than an email or a tweet. Here are some helpful suggestions:
Here’s what to do.
- Look up your federal representatives: you have three, two U.S. Senators, who represent the entire state, and a U.S. Representative, who represents your specific district. You can look them up here and here, all you need is a zip code.
- Make a plan to call: Skip calling the D.C. office and call your district office. Your congressional representatives should have district office phone numbers listed on their website. Call during business hours (also listed on the website) to guarantee that you’ll speak to a staffer.
- Know what message you want to convey: Do you want your congress person to vote a specific way on a bill? If so, have the bill number and name ready. Do you want to voice your opinion on a non-legislative issues? Have your opinion ready. Do you have a question about where a bill is in the legislative process? Or how your representative plans to vote on a bill? Have the name and number ready for the staff member to look up. Do you need help with a specific casework issue? Make sure it’s something that the federal government (and not your state or local government officials) covers and be ready to fill out a casework form.
- Be patient and kind: Senate staffers may not have every answer, but they will do their best to help you. They can take hundreds of calls in one day, but they’re here to serve you.
When you call, you will almost certainly not speak with the representative; you’ll just be talking to a nice, young, staffer. It will only take a few minutes — three or four. There’s no reason to be intimidated. Often, they won’t even ask for your name; rather they may just want your zip code.
Why are you going to be calling? Well, this week my calls have gone towards letting my representatives know that I don’t want them to confirm Trump’s cabinet picks. Next week, I’m going to be asking them to support legislation that would require national candidates to release their tax returns. Why bother calling? If, like my representatives, yours are Democrats, you may think you don’t need to bother calling, but you do. We need to stiffen the spines of Democratic legislators and let them know that, win or lose, we don’t want them just caving to Trump. I’d prefer for all of Trump’s horrible picks and laws to be passed on a strict party-line basis. Make the Republicans own this shit. If, instead, your representatives are Republicans, you may think there’s no point to calling, but there is. Republican legislators need to hear from their constituents. Enough pressure can sometimes make the difference and, even if it doesn’t, it’s important to make them nervous. Tell the staffer that you vote and you’ll be paying attention to what the representative does.
These people work for you. You’d let your other employees know at least once a week what you expect from them, wouldn’t you? Voting once every four years, or even once every two years, isn’t enough. Survive and resist.
Picture found here.