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5 Steps to Save the ACA Before It’s Too Late

While everyone’s been distracted by Trump and Russia, Senate Republicans have been crafting their dangerous Obamacare repeal bill behind closed doors — and they want to vote on it by the end of the month. This is not a drill.

The House’s version of the American Health Care Act, which they passed in May, was an absolute dumpster fire for women’s health care: it would have stripped health insurance from 23 million people, dramatically raised premiums on people who could keep their insurance, and ended the ACA’s ban on discriminating against people with preexisting conditions like breast cancer, mental illness, or even pregnancy.

Senate Republicans are making some changes to the bill. I’d love to tell you what they are, but they’re writing the bill in secret. By contrast, Obamacare was debated publicly for months and publicly subjected to hundreds of Senate amendments. The House bill would ban patients from using insurance subsidies on plans that covered abortion — does the Senate’s? The House bill would let insurers drop maternity coverage from their plans — does the Senate’s? The House bill would defund Planned Parenthood — does the Senate’s? No one knows, but the odds aren’t good: as Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex) said: “80 percent of what the House did we’re likely to do.”

And Senate Republicans won’t have this debate in public because, as one senior aide put it, “we aren’t stupid.” Republicans are betting that, by drafting this bill behind closed doors, they can ram it through the Senate before the opposition gets organized enough to stop them.

Here’s how you can help make sure they bet wrong.

1) Do you have Republican Senators? Call them right now. Call them every day.

In March, massive mobilization against the AHCA very nearly killed it. Then, in May, House Republicans brought it back to life and rammed it through a vote — moving so quickly and secretively that activists were taken by surprise and couldn’t mobilize in time to stop it. Senate Republicans are tying to use the same strategy; don’t let them. Right now, reports suggest the Senate is receiving fewer calls than in March, so we need to dial the volume up.  

You can use Indivisible’s Stop Trumpcare call script. Ask them to oppose any bill that would throw people off of health coverage. Tell them how the AHCA would harm women. Say you won’t stand for any bill that cuts Medicaid, defunds Planned Parenthood, or lets insurers charge women more for being pregnant.

2) After you call your Senators, tweet them! Progressive groups have made it easy — tweet at your Republican Senators using this Trumpcare Toolkit, which will give you a pre-drafted tweet and an infographic showing how many people would lose insurance. Want more? Indivisible has infographics showing how much premiums will rise in each of 10 target states and how many people would lose Medicaid. Tweet them the stories of people like Jennifer England, a small-business owner who survived breast cancer because of care she could only get through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. “Losing Obamacare,” she says, “could kill me.” Or share your own story using h/t #ProtectOurCare.

3) Are you from one of these target states? Don’t just call your Senators — call and ask for their health care staffers.

 

Share state-by-state impacts: ask Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) if she’s really going to support a bill that would kick 62,500 of her constituents off insurance. Ask Susan Collins what she’ll say to the 116,800 Mainers who’ll lose coverage if AHCA passes.

4) Are you represented by Democrats? Great. Tell them to get aggressive.

The House’s AHCA bill is supported by exactly eight percent of Americans. No, that’s not a typo — once people understood the bill, most Americans were unsurprisingly against stripping 23 million of people of their health insurance coverage to give rich people a tax cut. But educating people, and mobilizing them, takes time.

Democrats can help make that happen by slowing down Senate business and generating coverage over just how dangerous the AHCA is. Tell you Democrats to boycott some hearings, and make the hearings they go to about healthcare. Tell them to do a walk-out. Tell them to do a sit-in. Coverage of AHCA has fallen dramatically since the bill passed the House — by making noise, Democrats can drive it.

5) Get your friends to do it too. Indivisible has a new toolkit that will help you find your Facebook friends in 10 target states with Republican Senators who could be flipped. Find your Facebook friends and ask them to take action.

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Here’s the thing: we have the power to stop this. As healthcare wonk Andy Slavitt pointed out, Republican Senator Dean Heller — who’s Nevada seat is up in 2018 — won his last election by just 12,000 votes. More than 200,000 Nevadans have health care thanks to the Medicaid expansion alone. What happens when those 200,000 people make it clear to Senator Heller that they’re angry and they’re organized?

We only need to peel off three Republican votes, and we only have a few weeks. We can do this, but we need people like you to show up.

Header image via Vogue

Sejal Singh is a columnist at Feministing, an LGBTQ rights activist, and Policy Coordinator for Know Your IX, a national campaign to end gender-based violence in schools. She is a frequent speaker on civil rights in education and violence against women. Her views are her own.

Sejal Singh is a columnist at Feministing.

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