Tonight, the U.S. Senate voted to defeat the “Health Care Freedom Act” 49-51, with three GOP Senators defecting from the bill. The vote should not have been that close, since it would have led to 16 million more Americans and 20% annual premium increases, and was opposed by nearly every patient and health provider organization, and many others. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in his remarks after the vote, said “It’s time to move on.” Sen Minority Leader Chuck Shumer said “We’re not celebrating, we are relieved.”
Consumer and health advocates cautioned that the #Fight4OurHealth isn’t over. Revised versions of the bill, or efforts during the debate around the federal budget or tax cuts, would revive proposals that could lead to millions more uninsured, and more paying much more for far less coverage.
Consumers across California and the nation were not just alarmed but angry and active and made their voice heard, loud enough to help sensible Senators to pull back from the brink of health care armageddon. All the phone calls, protest, vigils, town halls, and other actions of everyday citizens made a difference in this debate. These votes should never have been so close and so fraught, given the unified opposition from nearly every patient and health group and that each of these proposals would have led to millions more uninsured, and many more facing spikes in premiums and/or deductibles.
While as health care consumers we should be relieved, as citizens we need to remain vigilant to other threats. We need to stop attempts to sabotage our health system by the Trump Administration, from unilaterally defundind already budgeted cost-sharing reductions to undoing key consumer protections through regulation. We are particularly concerned Congress will seek Medicaid cuts and caps in the federal budget and other bills, as a way to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest and corporations. As long as politicians in power seek to cut our care, we need to continue to fight like hell for our health.
Our state had the most at risk: over five million Californians’ coverage at risk, potential cuts to $30 billion/.year to Medi-Cal and the state budget, the undermining of key consumer protections that we all enjoy. California can now continue the work of implementing and improving upon the Affordable Care Act, and use our progress as platform for additional efforts to cover everyone, reduce costs, and improve quality, value, and equity.
Californians will continue the #Fight4OurHealth with protests tomorrow (Friday) morning to be held in front of the offices of several California Representatives on Friday, July 27:
* Congressman Denham: 4701 Sisk Rd., #202, Modesto, CA 95356, 10:00 pm
* Congressmembers Walters, Rohrabacher, and Royce: 3333 Michelson Dr. Ste. 230, Irvine, CA 92612
* Congressman Knight: 26415 Carl Boyer Drive, Ste. 220, Santa Clarita, CA 91350, 11:00am
* Congressman Issa: 1800 Thibodo Rd. Vista, CA 92081, 10:00am
And on Saturday, July 28:
* Congressman Valadao: 1700 W. Lacey Blvd., Hanford, CA 93230, 9:00am