Today, the U.S. Senate voted on a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act, without a replacement plan attached. It failed on a 45-55 vote, ultimately dooming a proposal that would have led to over 32 million more Americans uninsured, doubled premiums within a decade, and spiked deductibles. Having now rejected both a straight repeal and their repeal-and-replace bill, the Senate is proceeding to debate on an unknown “Trojan Horse” bill that has yet to be made public. This “skinny repeal” bill is likely to include a repeal of the individual and employer mandates, as well as some specific taxes and public health funds.
The Senate appropriately did not pass these two major proposals to repeal coverage for over 20 million Americans, and savagely cut Medicaid and the health care system we all rely on. But it’s shocking that over 40 Senators were still willing to put their names on such devastating and destructive proposals. Luckily, some Senators were able to pull back from the brink. We will need them to do it again for proposals unveiled in the next few days.
The current bill is now a Trojan Horse for some unknown proposal that would be substituted at the last minute to jam through the Senate. This secret proposal has been dubbed ‘skinny repeal’, yet there is no public draft and we have no idea what could be included in a final version. Even if the skinny repeal proposal excludes the massive Medicaid cuts and is only repeal of some of the mandates, it would have dramatic impacts that would disproportionately affect California.
A repeal of the individual mandate without any replacement would cause premiums to skyrocket, imploding the individual insurance market that three million Californians rely on to get coverage. Spiking insurance rates leads to healthy people dropping coverage, leaving the rest of us in a smaller and sicker insurance pool, facing higher and higher premiums. The Senate should not pass repeals of the mandates without a viable alternative in place, one that doesn’t discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.
California has the most to lose with even so-called skinny repeal. California has one of the lowest rates of employer-based coverage and one of the biggest individual insurance markets, by people and percentage, which these proposals threaten to blow up. California has also been one of the most aggressive applicants for the prevention funds that are possibly on the chopping block. Californians should continue to be alarmed and active against efforts to move our health care system to the lowest common denominator.
The Senate is still debating to take our health care away so there is still plenty of work to do! Phone banking, canvassing, and other actions are planned for the coming weeks. Visit www.fightandresist.org to find out what’s happening near you!