Senate Votes Prompt Protest–The #Fight4OurHealth Far From Over

Today, with a razor thin 51-50 vote, the U.S. Senate voted on the motion to proceed on the GOP’s health bill–a bill that has gotten no hearings, no committee consideration, no expert testimony, and no public draft of a bill they would end up with. To be clear that they didn’t know what they were voting on, later in the evening, the Senate voted down the much-discussed “repeal and replace” Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), on a resounding 43-57 vote. While other votes this week will also leave over 22 million Americans uninsured, and increased premiums and deductibles for many more, the vote against BCRA (and the very close motion to proceed vote) shows the fight around health care reform isn’t over.

Californians mobilized quickly to #Fight4OurHealth, including at key Congressional offices of many of 14 Republican House Representatives, with hundreds of Californians showing up at the offices of Representatives Issa, Rohrabacher, McClintock, Denham, Walters, Knight, Royce, as well as other locations throughout the day. If a bill passes the Senate, Californian’s GOP delegation will be crucial as swing vote to either pass the legislation on a final concurrence, or to influence a conference committee.

We need people-powered protest against these proposals that would leave millions uninsured, and force massive cuts and caps to Medicaid and the hospitals and health systems on which we all rely. Californians are right to be alarmed and active–every version of these bill undoes Medi-Cal coverage for 4 million Californians, cuts the tax credits that 1.5 million in Covered California depend on to afford coverage, and leads to higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs for many more.

This so-called health care bill should not have gotten this far, given it was opposed by patient, doctor, hospital, senior, and consumer groups–but are at least glad that BCRA is dead, in its current form. The non-partisan and independent Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) found that BCRA will result in 15 million Americans losing coverage in 2018, 19 million by 2020, and 22 million by 2026. The proposal will also cut overall Medicaid funding by $772 billion (a 26% reduction) over the next decade by eliminating the Medicaid expansion and capping the Medicaid program and ending the matching guarantee that has been in place for over 50 years. Along with unanimous Democratic opposition, nine GOP Senators (Paul, Heller, Lee, Moran, Graham, Collins, Murkowski, Cotton, and Corker) opposed a motion on BCRA (along with a Cruz amendment seeking to undermine key patient protections on essential benefits.).

We expect another vote tomorrow on the straight “Repeal and Run” vote–to simply undo the Medicaid expansion, all the financial help to afford private coverage, and key consumer protections. Since that vote is also expected to fail–especially since it would require a 60-vote margin, and Murkowski, Collins, and Capito had expressed opposition to that idea, along with others.

What’s coming this week–nobody knows, and that’s the problem.