Week 5: Stop U.S. Senate leaders from destroying health care

What ramming through a health care bill looks likeLate last week, Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate released their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Senate leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a vote on it this week. Bottom line? It would remove health coverage from 22 million Americans.

The Senate health care bill kills coverage in two ways: In addition to savage cuts to Medicaid, the bill would end Medicaid expansion. Its Marketplace insurance plans would charge more and cover less than even the lowest-coverage ACA plan1. (And if your health insurance lapses at any point, you’re locked out of coverage for six months.2

Why does an anti-hunger organization like Just Harvest care about access to health care coverage? Because health care costs are often what plunge vulnerable people into hunger and food insecurity.

And in the case of health care in this country, the new Senate Republican bill makes nearly everyone vulnerable.

[Ready to take action? Scroll down.]

Why you should care about what the Senate bill does to Medicaid
Medicaid is a relatively low-cost and cost-effective federally funded social program that provides health coverage to nearly 1 in 5 (74.5 million) adults and children – many more than the 12 million Americans now covered through the insurance Marketplace3.

  • Medicaid covers 1/2 of all births in the U.S. In Pa., 39% of pregnant women are on Medicaid.4
  • Medicaid covers 40% of children, and 3/4 of poor children.5
  • Medicaid covers nearly 2/3 of seniors in nursing homes.
  • Medicaid also provides coverage people with disabilities and expensive chronic illnesses and veterans.
  • Thanks to Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania (a key part of the Affordable Care Act that Gov. Wolf put in place), Medicaid now covers many low-income childless adults and more of the adults and children already mentioned – altogether totaling an extra 700,000+ people in Pennsylvania who now have access to health care6.

And Medicaid doesn’t just help low-income households or middle class families with long-term care needs. Research shows that Medicaid “contributes to lower dropout rates, more college degrees, higher earnings, emptier jails and thriving economies. In short, the American dream.7

The new Senate bill written by Republican leaders to repeal the Affordable Care Act would end funding for Medicaid expansion by 2024, severely cap federal spending on Medicaid, and a number of other horrible things8. Cynically called “the Better Care Act” (BCRA), it’s in some ways even worse than the version Republicans in the U.S. House passed last month9, which was stunningly awful.

The Senate’s attack on Medicaid could take $24 billion out of Pennsylvania’s coffers over the next 10 years and then cost us $3 billion/year after that10. Our state would then be left in an impossible situation: pick up the bill to help these adults and children keep coverage and likely have to make cuts in other areas of government services? Or watch them die?

Health care or welath care? Under Trumpcare 777,000 Pennsylvanians will lose coverage so that 12,320 millionaires in Pennsylvania can each get a $29,838 tax cut….all to give more money to the wealthy
Like the House bill, the BCRA would transfer what the government spends on health care for low-income and middle-class Americans to the wealthy and to insurance companies. And it does this to such an extent that it leaves few low-income people able to buy health coverage at all11.

“The tax cuts in this legislation alone would amount to some $700 billion over a decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. About $33 billion of this would go to tax cuts conservatively averaging $7 million every year to each of the 400 highest-income families in the country… enough to pay for the expansion of Medicaid in Nevada, West Virginia, Arkansas and Alaska.” 12

How could a health care bill take health coverage from low-income and middle-class families just to give tax breaks to people like Pres. Trump and many of our legislators? Because it’s not really a health care bill. It’s a wealthcare bill.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

We have one of Pennsylvania’s two U.S. senators, Pat Toomey, to thank for the BCRA. He helped write the bill in secret, and pushed to make the Medicaid cuts even worse.

Fortunately, now the BCRA has seen the light of day and people are speaking out. Senate Democrats are uniformly opposed and Senate Republican support for this bill is also starting to crumble.

Help squash the BCRA for good. Call your two Pennsylvania U.S. senators: 1-855-764-1010

1. Call Sen. Toomey’s office and give them this message: “I live in Pennsylvania and want to tell Sen. Toomey that I will hold him and his Republican colleagues accountable for the devastation this bill will cause.

  • Writing hugely important bills in secret — bills that will transform our economy and people’s lives — and then rushing them to vote with limited time for debate is not how a democratic government is supposed to work.
  • No U.S. health care bill should gut and dismantle Medicaid and deprive millions of people, including children, of the only coverage they can access. Pennsylvania simply can’t afford this disastrous plan.” You can also try to reach Toomey’s staff at (202) 224-4254 or (412) 803-3501 or via online fax.

2. Call Sen. Casey’s office and give them this message: “I live in Pennsylvania and I want to thank Sen. Casey for his efforts to stand up to Republicans’ shameful health care repeal bill. I urge him not to back down. The BCRA will take health coverage away from millions of people. It guts Medicaid, hurting children and families, seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans. It will weaken our state and jeopardize everyone’s care and well-being, all to shift billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy.”

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