U. S. Senate voting on health care; voters must keep calling to let their Senators know not to repeal the Affordable Care Act

The U. S. Senate voted Tuesday, July 25, 2017, on a procedural motion to begin debate on the plan to repeal Obamacare outright and replace it within two years – after Vice President Mike Pence voted to break a 50-50 tie and ailing Arizona Sen. John McCain slammed the chamber’s secretive process.
Moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined all Democrats to vote against the motion, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky proposed after two previous versions of a healthcare bill failed to attract enough votes.
Several GOP senators switched their positions after saying as recently as last week that they would not support a complete Obamacare repeal without replacement. They were Sens. Shelly Moore Caputo of West Virginia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio and Dean Heller of Nevada. While these Republican Senators voted to begin debate, they may not vote for any of the pending proposals to ”repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.
McCain, 80, who was diagnosed with brain cancer after undergoing surgery 11 days ago, returned to the Senate to vote for the procedural motion. “I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments be offered,” McCain said. “I will not vote for this bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that.”
He called for both parties to work together to bring forth legislation that would improve healthcare for all Americans.
“We keep trying to win without help from the other side of the aisle,” McCain said. “We are getting nothing done, my friends, we’re getting nothing done.”
Democratic Senate leaders urged voters to continue to call their Senators, especially Republicans not to vote to destroy coverage for millions of people who need healthcare.
In Alabama, call Senator Richard Shelby at 202/224-5744; and Senator Luther Strange at 202/224-4124. In other states call the central Capitol switchboard at 800-826-3688 and follow the verbal prompts.

 

Newswire : Now is the time to repair, not repeal, the Affordable Care Act

Alabama Arise

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Tuesday in response to the collapse of U.S. Senate efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act:

“The defeat of the Senate’s awful health care bill was a victory for Alabama families. This cruel plan would have gutted Medicaid, which provides essential health coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities in every corner of our state, to pay for huge tax cuts for rich people and big corporations. It would have hammered rural hospitals and nursing homes while sending insurance costs soaring for many older Alabamians. And it would have sent us back to the bad old days of limiting benefits and discriminating against folks with pre-existing conditions.

“Powerful advocacy from everyday people across Alabama and across the country stopped the bad Senate bill in its tracks. We urge senators to stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and start trying to make it work better for everyone. Our lawmakers should work together in an open, thoughtful, bipartisan way to strengthen the ACA, reduce insurance costs and extend quality, affordable health care to all Americans.”

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of congregations, organizations and individuals promoting public policies to improve the lives of low-income Alabamians.

Newswire : Stalled GOP Health Care Bill would have ‘crushed working-class Blacks’

Written By Lynette Holloway, Newsone
Health care protest.jpg
Health Care protest
In a major blow to Republicans’ ongoing effort to dismantle Obamacare, Senate majority leader on Tuesday postponed a vote on a measure that would have rendered health care treatment unaffordable for working-class Black Americans.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, who faced resistance from inside and outside his party, acknowledged that he had more work to do to pull together at least 50 members to vote on the measure, writes The New York Times. It has been tabled until after the July Fourth recess.
McConnell, known as a formidable deal-maker, made the announcement at a news conference late-Tuesday after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House. McConnell warned warring factions that if they cannot come together, he would be forced to strike a deal with Democratic New York Sen. Charles Schumer, an equally wily negotiator.
In short, the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare is a mess. And it’s a good thing because poor Blacks and Whites, who are barely recovering from the great recession, would have been hit hard.
For months, the media have characterized Trump voters as poor Whites, including miners and steel workers. Alternet notes that the GOP health care plan “crushes working-class Blacks and Whites,” but not middle-class Whites who voted for Trump.
The failed measure proposed more severe cuts to Medicaid than the House bill, and provided more tax credits and breaks to the wealthiest Americans. At stake is a program that provides low-cost care to mostly poor people. “An estimated 75 million Americans — including children, pregnant women, disabled individuals and elderly people in nursing homes,” writes USA Today.
Former President Barack Obama condemned the Senate healthcare plan
Barack Obama sharply condemned the healthcare plan unveiled by Senate Republicans on Thursday as a “massive transfer of wealth” to the rich, at the expense of poor and middle-class Americans.
In a Facebook post hours after the Republican bill was made public, the former president made some of his most pointed comments since leaving office in defense of what remains the most signature accomplishment of his two terms.
“The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a healthcare bill,” Obama wrote. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.”
“Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family, this bill will do you harm,” he added, while highlighting some of the more contentious provisions within the legislation, such as tax breaks to top earners and drug and insurance companies, and the potential gutting of coverage for pre-existing conditions, pregnancy and mental health.
“Small tweaks over the course of the next couple of weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”
Obama has largely kept out of the political fray since his departure from the White House – weighing in on just a handful of Donald Trump’s actions through written statements, such as his successor’s travel ban on refugees and several Muslim-majority countries, and the decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.
But Obama’s personal stake in the healthcare debate, and his concern that Trump and Republicans will dismantle the Affordable Care Act, has transcended the other matters that have dominated Washington under the new administration.
In his post on Thursday, Obama notably echoed Trump’s alleged assertion behind closed doors that the healthcare legislation passed by House Republicans in May was “mean”. Democrats have adopted Trump’s characterization into somewhat of a slogan to rally against the Republican healthcare proposals.
The Senate bill released on Thursday has already faced some early opposition from conservatives who say it does not go far enough in repealing and replacing Obama’s healthcare law. Obama urged Republicans on Capitol Hill to not simply be driven by meeting a campaign promise, but to instead think about the potential for millions of Americans to lose their insurance. While the Congressional Budget Office is expected to score the Senate legislation by early next week, the House-passed bill would leave 23 million more people uninsured over the next 10 years.
“I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican party,” Obama said. “Still, I hope that our senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on healthcare or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.

Trump Administration plans to ‘repeal and replace’ Affordable Care Act raises concern in Alabama

By: Mynecia Steele, Special to the Democrat

After two unsuccessful tries, the Trump Administration was able last week to convince the U. S. House of Representatives to narrowly pass, by a 217 to 213 vote, a measure to ‘repeal and replace’ the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare.
Trump and members of the House Republican leadership celebrated victory last week in the White House Rose Garden. Trump called the legislation “a great healthcare plan that will give all Americans access to health care at lower premiums and better care.” But many questions and concerns remain before this legislation passes the U. S. Senate and reaches the President’s desk for final signature.
“The Trump administration may make changes in the ACA, but will not totally repeal it while President Trump is in office,” said Elmore Patterson, CEO of the Greene County Health System, which operates the hospital, nursing home and a physician’s clinic in Greene County.
“Eliminating the Affordable Care Act will leave even more Americans without healthcare,” said Patterson. He sees the attempts to repeal the ACA as a “waste of time.” There does not seem to be a thought-out replacement for the ACA. The repeal will only increase the number of uninsured citizens, and that is not what the country needs,” said Patterson. A study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said as many as 24 million people will loose health care under the Trump proposal.
“The thing is, they would have to find a way to keep the good things about the Affordable Care Act, and get rid of the bad,” said Patterson.
Former Governor Robert Bentley never allowed the expansion of Medicaid in Alabama. So, Alabamians never reaped the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act, said Patterson. Many low income working people, who made more than the base minimum of around $5,000 annually to qualify for Medicaid and less than the $15,000 annually to qualify for subsidies on the ACA state exchange, were left out of care. The Supreme Court gave states the discretionary power to expand or not expand Medicaid for people up to 138% of the state poverty level ($11,000 for an individual in Alabama). Alabama did not expand Medicaid and over 300,000 people, some of the poorest and the sickest in the state, were left without insurance coverage.

Alabama healthcare will be further limited with President Trump’s plan, said Dr. Dedra Reed of the Franklin Primary Health Center, in Mobile, Alabama. “I don’t think Trump should repeal Obamacare, because millions of people would lose coverage. Medicaid won’t be expanded, and many rural hospitals will be forced close down because they will not have people who can pay for needed healthcare.”
In 2015, AP reported that eight rural Alabama hospitals were closed within the last 15 years. Many others are staying open with subsidies and support from sales taxes and other local non-healthcare generated support.
When former President Obama’s administration originally proposed the Affordable Care Act, and even after it was approved the public reacted in both negative and positive ways.
“Current health care with Obamacare has given many people healthcare coverage without being penalized for preexisting conditions,” said Dr. Dedra Reed of the Franklin Primary Health Center, in Mobile, Alabama. “I think it can be improved by lowering premiums and making it more affordable for everyone.”
Proposals for a new health plan have received similar reactions.  “I make so little money, I can’t qualify for subsidies in health care plans–at least as far as I’m currently aware,” said Lyra Galle, a senior Professional and Public Writing, and English major at Troy University. “The health care plan my mom has through work doesn’t allow family members on the plan, so that puts me in a sticky situation.” Obamacare does allow insurance companies to cover students and young adults, up to age 26, to be covered on their parent’s health care plans.
“Ultimately, before Obamacare, with Obamacare, or the Republican health care plan that recently passed wouldn’t have benefited me. I think it’s a bad idea to repeal Obamacare, and I think it’s a move purely to spite Democrats.” People are uncertain that President Trump will successfully pass a new healthcare plan while in office. And, some don’t want him to. Galle is one of those uncertain people. “I didn’t think Trump would win the election, but he did. At this point, I don’t know what to expect,” Galle said.

Rep. Sewell Statement on CBO Analysis of GOP Repeal Bill

terri-sewell

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released projections of how many Americans would gain or lose insurance under the Republican proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act as well as cost projections for the proposed bill. The CBO analysis comes nearly a week after the Ways & Means Committee considered and voted to advance the Republican repeal bill. Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell voted against the repeal bill in committee.
“The CBO report released today makes one thing clear: the Republican repeal bill will cost American lives and leave millions uninsured,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “Under this bill, 14 million Americans would lose their insurance within the next year. Over the next decade, that number would rise to an unsustainable 24 million uninsured Americans. Our healthcare infrastructure, from our rural hospitals to our network of family physicians, cannot withstand that kind of blow to health coverage. I believe that all Americans have a right to affordable healthcare, but this legislation turns healthcare into a privilege. For families in my district, the Republican repeal bill means more expensive coverage with fewer protections. We cannot ask working Americans to go broke, bankrupt, or do without healthcare.”
Today’s report from the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation shows that by 2018, five million fewer people would be covered under Medicaid, six million fewer Americans would be covered in the individual market, and a total of 14 million more Americans would be without insurance. The CBO report estimates that in 2018 and 2019, average premiums for single policyholders in the non-group market would rise 15 to 20 percent under the GOP repeal bill.
In addition, the report shows that low-income seniors will see premium increases of $12,900, while the average 40 year old will see an average premium increase of $700. CBO projects that the actuarial value of all plans will decrease under the AHCA.

Rep. Sewell Statement on GOP Health Bill

terri-sewell
Washington, D.C. – On Monday, Republicans in Congress released legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act. The GOP health bill would make large cuts to Medicaid, destabilize Medicare by reducing funding for the Medicare Trust Fund, and increase health costs for working and low-income families. Estimates suggest that 357,000 Alabamians are at risk of losing their coverage if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed.
“For my constituents, access to affordable healthcare is a life or death issue,” said Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL). “After seven years of calling for the Affordable Care Act’s repeal, it is unconscionable that the best Republican leadership has to offer is a plan that cuts Medicaid, destabilizes Medicare, and takes insurance away from millions of hardworking Americans. In fact, estimates suggest that 357,000 Alabamians are at risk of losing their coverage if we repeal the ACA. Our access to care is a fundamental right, not a privilege. Protecting care for seniors, disabled Americans, and working and low-income families goes to the heart of who we are as a country. We cannot settle for a health plan that leaves millions of Americans without the coverage they need.”
Studies show that the GOP health plan would increase costs for the average enrollee by $1,542 if the bill were in effect today. At the same time, the proposed bill eliminates requirements for insurance companies to cover preventative care, and makes it possible for insurers to discriminate against seniors. By cutting Medicaid and reducing health assistance to low-income families, the health bill would reduce revenue for rural hospitals nationwide, 700 of which have been labeled as financially at risk.
Patients across Alabama’s 7th District would lose assistance under the GOP health plan. In Jefferson County, residents’ health coverage tax credits will be 33% lower than they were under the ACA.
Despite concerns raised by both Republicans and Democrats, House Republicans plan to move forward with consideration of the health bill in the Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, March 8. Rep. Sewell is a member of the Ways and Means Committee and will participate in tomorrow’s markup of the GOP health bill.

10 million may lose health insurance coverage under GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan, S&P says

By: Dan Mangan | CNB

Between 6 million and 10 million people would lose health insurance coverage if a Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act becomes law, a new report estimates.
The top end of those losses, or 10 million people, is equal to half of the 20 million or so people who have gained coverage in the past seven years under Obamacare.
The sobering estimate came from S&P Global Ratings on Tuesday, less than a full day after House GOP leaders released their plan for gutting key elements of the ACA, and replacing it with new rules.
S&P Global Ratings said it expected that if the plan were approved, there would be a decline in enrollment in the individual health insurance plan market of between 2 million and 4 million people.
There also would be a decline of between 4 million and 6 million people in the nation’s Medicaid system after 2020 to 2024, according to the report.
But profitability among U.S. insurers “will likely improve,” the company said, pointing to the fact that the replacement plan “can result in an improved risk pool in the individual market.”
The report said that the replacement plan would likely increase the affordability of individual insurance plans for younger adults, and reduce the affordability of those plans “for the older population.”
S&P Global Ratings also said it expected there would be a “large difference between states both in terms of insured rates,” that is the percentage of people with health coverage, “and benefits covered by insurance plans.”

The report is certain to be used by supporters of Obamacare in their efforts to defeat the Republican plan and keep most, if not all, of the ACA intact as the law of the land.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has yet to “score” the plan, which would analyze both the proposal’s costs to the federal government, and its effect on the number of people insured in the United States.
The ACA has been credited with driving down the nation’s uninsured rate to record low levels through the creation of government-run marketplaces for individual insurance plans, and by expanding Medicaid eligibility standards to more poor adults than previously were covered.
The GOP proposal calls for ending the ACA rule requiring most Americans to have some form of health coverage or pay a fine. It also calls for replacing Obamacare’s system of subsidies for premiums for plans purchased on government-run marketplaces with refundable tax credits that can be used to buy coverage both on and off those marketplaces.
And the proposal would freeze the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid benefits to nearly all poor adults in 31 states by 2020, and switch the way the federal government funds the Medicaid programs of states to a block grant system.