Senate Republicans are making a final effort to keep their promise to voters and repeal the Affordable Care Act. There’s just one problem: An awful lot of voters don’t want that.
They’ve also got another problem: The clock is ticking and time’s running out.
Why? As ABC explains, they can only avoid a bill-killing filibuster by Senate Democrats if they can get the Graham-Cassidy bill passed by September 30. After that, budget rules no longer apply and they’d need a two-thirds majority to override their colleagues from the other side of the aisle who are unanimously against it.
Until then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) only needs 50 votes from his 52 Republicans, because a 50-50 tie would be broken by Vice President Mike Pence’s vote. So far, he’s had trouble getting those 50 votes. Back in July, as reported by Vox, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) opposed the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) because it would hurt their constituents. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted against it only because he objected to the lack of public debate.
A poll by the Kaiser Foundation shows 60 percent of us say it’s a “good thing” the Senate didn’t pass the Affordable Care Act repeal. A whopping 78 percent believe President Donald Trump should do what he can to make the ACA work, while 60 percent want Republicans to work with Democrats on fixing it. 60 percent also blame the White House and Republicans in Congress for the law’s drawbacks. While 40 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of Independents, and a surprising 4 percent of Democrats say they want the ACA to fail so the GOP can replace it, they only add up to 17 percent of respondents.
— Richard Holober (@RichardHolober) August 15, 2017
Voters share their stories about the Affordable Care Act.
And now, activists who want to keep the Affordable Care Act intact have brought out the ultimate secret weapon: Videos featuring Americans with powerful stories to tell. Of course, these stories are biased because these people all depend on the ACA for themselves and their families. But that doesn’t make them any less powerful.
Among the most heartwrenching videos is one from Matt from Arizona. He was finally able to get health coverage in 2014 despite his pre-existing condition. Then the unthinkable happened. “Later that year, my lung collapsed,” he said.
“If I had waited to go to the hospital because I didn’t have insurance, I would have died. Quite literally, the Affordable Care Act saved my life. If it wasn’t for the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, my wife would be a widow and our daughter would be growing up without a father. “
He then addressed his congresswoman, Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) directly.
“You voted to repeal the ACA. You voted to take away insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. I am very disappointed, and I’m very, very angry that you would do this to people with pre-existing conditions like myself.”
— Our Lives (@OurLives) September 19, 2017
And there’s more where that came from. Two pro-ACA groups alone have already tweeted out several of these videos: Our Lives on the Line and Save My Care. And there’s also a stream of less polished but no less sincere photos and videos from Little Lobbyists, a group that advocates for children with disabilities. On Monday, they tweeted a photo of their young activists holding a rally in Washington, D.C.
— Little Lobbyists (@LittleLobbyists) September 19, 2017
At their event, a young man named Jackson also stepped up to the stage and gave a speech. In part five of a series of videos, he declares, “We deserve the chance to be healthy, to grow up, and to lead this country one day.”
— Little Lobbyists (@LittleLobbyists) September 9, 2017
Taheera from Philadelphia has a rare blood clotting disorder. Motioning towards her 9-year-old son, she said, “Without the Affordable Care Act, this one would not be here.”
— Save My Care (@SaveMyCare) September 10, 2017
Colleen from Ohio announced, “The ACA has protected my daughter, who is a cancer survivor, and my son who has a neurological condition that is still undiagnosed.”
Meet Colleen. Her children depend on the Affordable Care Act's provisions to guarantee care in Ohio. pic.twitter.com/wWmCyWaYNM
— Save My Care (@SaveMyCare) September 10, 2017
Meanwhile, Mary from Arizona makes a strong economic argument for the Affordable Care Act. She says it’s allowed her to be treated for her depression while pursuing her dream of launching and running a successful business. “If I lost my health coverage, I would have to close my business and go back and work full-time for someone else,” she explained. Meanwhile, the people she employs would lose their jobs. “I would urge politicians to look at the economic bottom line of having preventative healthcare for all of us because every dollar we spend on preventative care saves us $5 in emergency care.”
Republicans in the House and Senate have also been getting a lot of pushback from voters at their Town Hall meetings. This angry constituent whose wife had cancer and who’s got one child with a thyroid issue and another with cardiac condition angrily told Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) he’s “The greatest threat to my family in the entire world.” MacArthur, as you may recall, wrote an amendment to the House Bill that helped it pass. And this is just one of many Town Hall videos making the rounds on the Internet.
Senate Republicans have a good chance of success with their latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If they do, the numbers suggest these lawmakers may pay a steep price as neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can win elections without support from Independents. A Gallup poll from August shows 28 percent of voters identify as Republicans, 28 percent as Democrats, and a surprising 41 percent as Independents. While most Independents lean towards one party or the other, their votes are by no means guaranteed, and they support the ACA more than the GOP’s base.
The budget numbers have also given the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cause for concern, as reported by the (also non-partisan) Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). They went over the CBO’s numbers on the GOP’s Affordable Care Act repeal, and the CBPP’s report doesn’t mince words.
“It would cause many millions of people to lose coverage, radically restructure and deeply cut Medicaid, and increase out-of-pocket costs for individual market consumers.”
Although many of the changes wouldn’t take effect until 2027, millions of Americans and the people who care about them are likely to be very unhappy. For starters, the CBO estimates 32 million would lose their health coverage. This includes the 11 million people who get their health insurance through the Medicaid Expansion. These cuts would also hurt our struggling middle class, who would lose their subsidies and tax credits for their healthcare premiums.
With the demise of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance premiums are also likely to jump by 20 percent. People with pre-existing conditions would lose their protections so insurance companies can charge more. Time writes these may include common ailments like asthma, diabetes, depression, migraines, and acne.
Between funding cuts for the Medicaid expansion and other Medicaid spending, the new bill would cut $80 billion in federal health funding. In 2027 when what’s left of the Affordable Care Act is gone, the combined cuts could add up to $299 billion.
[Featured Image by Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock]