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Our Nation's Leaders Should be Ashamed

June 22, 2017: After months of secret, closed-door negotiations, Republican Senators released their treacherous draft health repeal bill today, the Better Care through Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA).

“There’s nothing better about this bill than the House bill (the American Health Care Act (AHCA)). The poor, sick and most vulnerable are still targeted. The cuts are more devastating and hidden; they won’t show up for many years. But they are there, and will hurt people including their ability to work, spend time with their families and contribute to their communities!” said Sarah de Guia, Executive Director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “No one wants to see people lose their health care coverage, not one state, not the health plans or providers. Our nation’s leaders should be ashamed of this bill!”

After the Senate’s promise to rewrite the House bill, which even President Trump has described as “mean”, the Senate bill devised in secret is 80 percent the same. Some of the new language will be even more punishing to the poor, the elderly, and disabled who receive Medi-Cal.

The Senate bill will not provide better health care for more people at a better price. Instead, the bill:

  • Threatens coverage for 14 million people in Medi-Cal, a majority who are people of color. The Senate bill caps and cuts future funding for Medicaid by an even greater amount than the House GOP bill, ending the federal 50-year plus commitment to match state’s Medicaid costs. States like California could be challenged to continue providing the same level of coverage and care for children, pregnant women, adults, seniors, and persons with disabilities including access to comprehensive benefits like mental and oral health care. Twelve percent of adults enrolled in Medicaid are living with a substance use disorder and Medicaid covers 3 in 10 adults living with an opioid addiction. This loss of Medicaid funds could hurt California’s efforts to manage the opioid epidemic by eliminating the Medicaid expansion by 2024.
  • Eliminates important consumer protections including protections for as many as 16.1 million Californians with pre-existing conditions. The bill makes it much easier for health plans to offer skimpy plans that provide little to no coverage. Critical benefits and services that are paid for today, such as mental health care or expensive treatments like chemotherapy could be severely restricted and as a result, patients particularly the sickest amongst us, forced to pay higher co-pays or worse, out-of-pocket for the health care services they need.
  • Increases premiums and cuts financial assistance for older individuals. Insurers will still be able to charge older people 5 times more for premiums than younger people. If they receive financial assistance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces like Covered California, they could be required to pay thousands more in premiums each year; up to 16.2% of a 60 year old’s income as opposed to just 9.5% today.
  • Excludes certain immigrants from accessing tax credits and purchasing coverage in ACA marketplaces with their own money, including individuals from Compact of Free Association nations (Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands).

California’s federal matching funds for our health care are at risk! California receives federal funds under the ACA to provide coverage and care including:

  • Funding for Medi-Cal: $6 billion growing to at least $24 billion by 2027, forcing cuts in important services for older adults, such as long-term services. Medicaid is the primary payer for 62% of nursing facilities in California. Approximately 778,118 Californians received long-term services and supports through Medicaid.
  • Tax Subsidies: $4.2 billion annually in subsidies to Covered California enrollees to help them purchase health coverage and get care. The average subsidy in 2016 was worth $5,300 per household and $3,500 per individual, but sizeable numbers of enrollees received more — with 12 percent of households receiving more than $10,000 per year to help them pay for coverage.
  • Public Health Funding: $300 million in funds for prevention cumulative over the next five years, which helps state and local agencies respond to health crises that are on the rise: epidemics, contagious disease outbreaks like the Zika virus, bioterrorism, and disasters, while improving health outcomes for diverse communities.
  • Funds for family planning: $260 million annually in funds for basic healthcare and family planning services in California. California’s Planned Parenthood affiliates provide basic health care services for up to 850,000 low-income Californians a year. Drastic cuts would eliminate care in rural and other hard to reach communities.

Any new health care bill should improve access to health care in the following ways:

  • Provide adequate funding for Medicaid and women’s health care services
  • Ensure affordable coverage for everyone including the middle class and elderly
  • Guarantee health care coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions
  • Maintain hard fought access to comprehensive benefits including maternity care, free preventive services, and mental health
  • Ensure adequate funds to prevent chronic diseases and deadly outbreaks like the Zika virus
  • Create greater linkages between clinical and population health to prevent and eliminate health disparities

Tell Your Congressman and Senators NO!

  • NO to any bill that does not protect individuals with pre-existing conditions from being charged more or getting less services
  • NO to any bill that caps or cuts Medicaid
  • NO to any bill that ends or harms Medicaid expansion
  • NO to any bill that cuts health care for women
  • NO to any bill that cuts health care for children
  • NO to any bill that cuts health care for people with disabilities
  • NO to any bill that increases health care costs for the elderly
  • NO to any bill that allows health insurance companies to drop essential health benefits
  • NO to any bill that eliminates vital funds for prevention and public health

Upcoming Events and Actions: 
Attend an Event! Although the action is now in the Senate, we can’t let our House representatives who voted for the AHCA think we’ve forgotten about them! We must keep the pressure on!

  • July 1-10: Recess. Members are working in their district offices
  • July 31–September 4: Recess. Members are working in their district offices

Stay tuned for an updated list of events.
Adopt a Senator in another State! With the fate of the ACA now in the Senate, it’s up to a handful of Senators to stop this monstrous bill. You can either join an existing phone bank group, or set up your own. For this type of phone banking, you’ll need a laptop and a cell phone.

  • Host a phone bank, big or small--it's easy! Training will be provided. Click this link to sign up: http://bit.ly/2n0pMoJ
  • Volunteer for a phone bank if there is one in your area. Click this link: http://bit.ly/2oKzbVt to sign up!
  • Talk to real people about what’s at stake. Go to a local SEIU office and you will be trained to use patch-through technology to call into swing states and districts. There are phone banks set up across the state, in Northern, Central, and Southern California. Find your nearest phone bank, and sign up!

Other Actions: