Update 3/24/17: GOP Healthcare Bill Pulled!
Facing increasing resistance, GOP leadership pulled their healthcare bill in the house without taking a final vote. There are no plans for rescheduling this vote, and both Paul Ryan and the President say that the ACA will remain the law of the land for the forseeable future.
Many pundits credit the GOP Freedom Caucus with the failure–they didn’t think the bill was far enough to the right. But every concession that was made to this group made the bill more inhumane, and it was the outcry of ordinary people who would be affected by this terrible legislation that moved moderate Republicans to retract their support.
The Republicans are hunkered in their bunker with a top-secret draft of their healthcare bill. Everyone should demand that they release it to the public, and that it be reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office, including how many will be covered by the plan.
In the meantime, though, there are some key elements Republicans have wanted for years, and you can tell Sen. Rob Portman (OH) and Rep. Bob Latta (OH-5) what you think.
1. Promise coverage, not just access!
Beware Republicans swearing access. The claim of “universal access” rather than universal coverage (or any kind of claim about coverage) is one of the most insidious rhetorical dodges of members like Paul Ryan. Any bill under consideration should include a review by the Congressional Budget Office that states how many people will be covered compared to how many are covered under the ACA.
2. Don’t politicize women’s health!
Most Republican bills include some kind of provision for restricting funding or reimbursement to healthcare providers for any services if they also offer abortion services. For example, even with the ACA in place, Texas tried to prohibit Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood. This kind of ideologically-motivated finance restriction is prohibited by the ACA, and Texas’ plan was recently blocked by federal judge, but if Republicans have their way, the new law will explicitly allow this inhumane practice.
Other provisions in the ACA that help women:
- Insurance companies cannot charge higher premiums based on gender (i.e. higher rates for women)
- Contraception must be covered
- Preventative care must be covered
Demand that these provisions stay!
3. Say NO to Medicaid “Block Grants”–save the Medicaid expansion!
Block grants are a long beloved Republican idea. They promote it under the guise of Sates rights and “choice” – but the only choice it’s likely to lead to is a macabre Sophie’s choice where state Governors and legislative bodies choose who to eliminate from the Medicaid care they currently receive.
Even Gov. John Kasich (R) lobbied Trump to keep the Medicaid expansion. Unfortunately, the “compromise” plan he proposes would still cause as many as 150,000 Ohioans to lose their Medicaid coverage.
4. Say NO to high-risk pools!
High-risk pools basically sequester the sickest people into one group. Theoretically, removing these people from the “general” pool reduces costs (for the general pool). But the rates for the high-risk pools are then very high. Even though the Republican plan would provide federal grant support for people in these pools, the chances are good that costs would far outpace grants funding.
5. FIX the ACA!
Trump claims, and Republicans agree, that the ACA is a disaster. In reality, this law has helped tens of millions gain health coverage. It needs some work—any major piece of legislation needs adjustments over time—but instead of helping Democrats fix this bill, Republicans have been working to undermine it and then they point out the problems they’ve caused and cry “disaster!” Last month Republicans passed a budget resolution that cut funding for parts of the ACA. Both Bob Latta and Rob Portman voted for this resolution. Rep. Latta even bragged about his role in weakening the healthcare law. Remind Rob and Bob that they are accountable to us.