Although most Republican Senators refused to hold the customary open town hall meetings with their constituents during the Independence Day holiday break (Senator Jerry Moran, R-KS being the lone exception), members of The Resistance found creative ways to express their thoughts on Republicans’ attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” a bill that basically amounts to the pointless “thoughts and prayers” they share after yet another mass-shooting (and will be about as effective at helping people afford health care).
Constituents pursued them to July 4th parades. Brave disability rights activists staged multi-day sit-ins at local Congressional offices. People shared their stories on social media (resulting, predictably, in death threats from assholes). Doctors rallied. People staged die-ins.
It’s been a busy “break.”
The Senate returns next week.
Mitch McConnell appears to be wavering. A little bit. Maybe. (Part of the problem being that the BCRA is totally incoherent and seems to have been formed only to solve only the problem of “what could potentially garner 51 votes?” and not necessarily anything related in any way, shape, or form to actually providing health care to actual people.)
Time to take a victory lap?
Time to step up the pressure.
“But I get my health care through my employer. This isn’t really my fight.”
Not so fast!
The BCRA is going to end the essential services, no annual limits, and no lifetime limits provisions of the ACA.
What that means is your employer could decide to switch to a cheaper policy that doesn’t include birth control coverage or mental health care or maternity care. Need those things? Tough luck – you aren’t covered.
What that means is if you have an unlucky year, you could hit your annual limit, be on the hook for a lot of money, and end up having to declare bankruptcy (medical debt being the MOST COMMON cause of personal bankruptcies).
What that means is if you end up being treated for something with an expensive drug or expensive surgeries, you could exhaust your lifetime limit of coverage. That means you’re done with health insurance FOREVER. Anything else that EVER happens to you is ON YOU to pay for.
The status of pre-existing conditions is still pretty shaky, so if you’ve ever had anything more serious that a sprained ankle or the flu, you could be denied coverage if you switch jobs – or if your employer switches carriers.
BCRA also drastically cuts Medicaid, which means Nonna could get thrown out on the street – or you could have to quit your job so you can take her into your home and care for her full time. Which would also mean you would lose your employer-provided coverage.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that this IS your fight. So now what?
Key Senators to target include:
- Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
- Jeff Flake (Arizona)
- Cory Gardner (Colorado)
- Susan Collins (Maine)
- Dean Heller (Nevada)
- Rob Portman (Ohio)
- Mike Lee (Utah)
- Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia)
- Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)
(Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, John McCain, Mike Rounds, and Bill Cassidy are also not supporting the BCRA – yet – but it’s mostly because they think it’s still too generous, so I’m not sure they’re open to persuasion, unless you’re willing to lie and agree that the BCRA *is* in fact FAR too generous, so they should continue to oppose. But if you’re a good liar, go for it. But don’t bet the farm on McCain – he’s been talking a good game and then folding like wet tissue paper for years.)
Sadly, if you are NOT one of their constituents, there’s really no point in calling. Yes, I know, Congress technically works for all of us, but the experts agree: if you aren’t in a Representative’s district or a Senator’s state, they don’t give a good goddamn what you think.
“I don’t live in one of those states. Am I off the hook?”
Do you know anyone in one of those states? Like maybe you have family or college friends who live there? Call them and urge *them* to call their Senators.
Not sure about where Great Aunt Rosa or your old roomie Jamal is living these days? Did you know that you can ask Facebook to show you your friends in a particular state? You can.
Is your Senator already on the record opposing BCRA? Then be like Hecate and call her or him to say thank you (and help her/him keep that stiff spine in the process).
When you – or your friends or family – call, make it personal. Share your story about how the ACA has helped you, or how losing that coverage would hurt you. Did it free you to follow your dream of starting your own freelance business? Does Medicaid pay for your Nonna to live comfortably and safely in a nursing home where she receives excellent professional care? Has it allowed you to stay on your parents’ plan – or keep your kids on your plan? Provided access to affordable birth control? Helped you afford better management of a chronic disease? Allowed you to get a screening test that found something while it was still easily treatable? Data and statistics are important, but they don’t resonate the way “the Affordable Care Act saved my life, and let me tell you how” does.
(You can also check out the ACLU’s grassroots People Power initiative to see if there’s a larger event happening near you like a march, protest, rally, or sit-in you could join. Or hell, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can sign up to host/organize one yourself!)
Image found here.
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