Keeping the Spotlight on Efforts to Replace Current Health Care Law
Action by the administration, i.e. the firing of FBI Director James Comey, on the heels of the House passage of the American Health Care Act, a bill to replace current law, shifted the national conversation this week for a few days while members of Congress were back home.
As we patiently wait for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to score the House-passed bill, a group of republican senators are currently working together to determine the fate of our country’s health care system. Late last week, we learned that the following 13 senators: Cotton (AR), Gardner (CO), Alexander (LA), Portman (OH), Toomey (PA), Thune (SD), Cruz (TX), Cornyn (TX), Hatch (UT), Lee (UT), Enzi (WY), and Barrasso (WY), were called on by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) to serve on the working group. If you are a member in one of these states and are interested in engaging with the Alliance around health care reform, please reach out to the Alliance Policy Office.
After much criticism that this all-male working group was going to decide the health fate of millions of women, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (WV) was invited to attend a meeting that these senators had earlier this week. We have learned that McConnell’s strategy is to get the necessary 51 votes needed to replace current law. However, it is unclear how this will play out as there are other republican senators, particularly Collins (ME) and Cassidy (LA), who have introduced the Patient Freedom Act as an alternative approach to replacing current law. In a nutshell, this bill would give states the option to decide whether to keep the current law in place.
The CBO score is expected to be released the week of May 22.
In the meantime, what can you do?
- Build or deepen Senate relationships. If you do not already have direct relationships to your state’s two U.S. senators, make those connections now. Contact the Alliance if we can be helpful in your relationship-building efforts.
- Prepare a story. Stories from constituents are so important to helping policymakers understand the impact on their district. Share how cuts to your state’s Medicaid program would impact the population or an individual/family you serve. You will find an outline of a personal impact story on page 23 of the Alliance Policy, Advocacy, and Communications Toolkit. Weave into the story specific examples of negative ways the bill would impact the community if it becomes law, such as:
- The AHCA could result in higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions or eliminate that coverage altogether, depending on the state.
- The AHCA could no longer provide coverage for essential benefits which, under current law, includes mental health and substance abuse disorder services, preventive and wellness services, and pediatric services. As proposed, essential benefits would be defined by each state.
- The AHCA would cut $880 billion from the Medicaid program, significantly impacting individuals, communities, and the social services sector.
- Schedule meetings with senators. Reach out as soon as possible to schedule a meeting with your Senator’s local office. The Alliance will provide talking points in support of your meeting – just let us know!
- You can also schedule a phone call or virtual meeting with their Washington, D.C.-based health staff. It’s important to speak with their D.C. staff about policy matters. The Alliance can connect with the appropriate staff person, just let us know!
- You can meet with their local office in person. Reach out to your senators’ offices to schedule an in-state meeting with them to position your organization as a resource and to help them understand the negative impacts of the House version of the bill.
The Alliance’s Office of Public Policy and Mobilization is here to support you in any way that we can, all you have to do is email us and let us know!