Hello! My name is _______, and I am a constituent of Senator _________'s in ____________, California. I'm calling to thank the senator for her opposition to the Republicans' efforts to destroy the Affordable Care Act, and to urge her to do everything possible to protect my healthcare coverage. The Senate must not follow in the House's footsteps and pass a bill that deprives millions of people of their right to healthcare access -- or that makes coverage unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions. Please use the power of our stories to defend the ACA, and insist upon the Democrats' right to filibuster any bill that undermines it! Thank you.
Last week, House Republicans voted by the narrowest of margins to pass the American Health Care Act -- a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that will take acccess to healthcare coverage away from at least 24 million people, and that allows individual states to opt out of requiring that insurers cover many of the ACA's "essential health benefits." Now the healthcare issue heads to the Senate, where even Republicans say the House bill has no chance of passing in its current form. GOP senators are writing their own bill, which, if passed, would need to be reconciled with the House version.
A key question in the coming weeks will concern the Republicans' ability to pass a bill through the Senate via "reconciliation" -- i.e., avoiding a Democratic filibuster by crafting a bill that is limited to budgetary impacts and will reduce the federal deficit. If Republicans cannot prove to the nonpartisan Senate Parliamentarian that their bill contains only legislative moves that are designed to save the government money, and achieve that goal, then the bill will be subject to normal rules requiring 60 votes for cloture.
Democrats argue that the structural changes Republicans want included in any ACA replacement bill -- coverage changes, for example, or moving from a penalty for individuals who don't purchase coverage to a surcharge on insurance purchased after a coverage gap -- would make such a bill ineligible for reconciliation.