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Daily Action: Once More Unto the Breach on Healthcare

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
DC: (202) 224-3841
LA: (310) 914-7300
Sen. Kamala Harris
DC: (202) 224-3553
LA:  (213) 894-5000

Sample Script:
Hello, my name is __________, and I am a constituent of Senator ___________'s in _______________, California. I am calling to make sure the Senator stands in strong opposition to the Senate Republicans' last attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Graham-Cassidy bill. I expect the Senator to pull out all the stops, if necessary, to keep this bill from reaching a final vote. It is not acceptable to me that my tax dollars might be sent in block grants to the stingiest, reddest states, so they can race to the bottom in providing healthcare access to their residents. Thank you!

Senate Republicans can't seem to get enough of trying to kill off the Affordable Care Act. Even they thought their "repeal and replace" efforts were finished when John McCain turned his thumb down on "skinny repeal" in early August. But now McCain's buddy Lindsey Graham (along with Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy) has introduced a bill that uses a well-worn GOP tactic: devolving power from the federal government to the states. That bill picked up new momentum on Thursday, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- who for weeks had been trying to move on from healthcare to tax reform -- told other Republicans they should "jump onboard."

Graham-Cassidy would, among other things:

  • Convert federal healthcare spending under the ACA into block grants (lump-sum payments) to the states
  • Eliminate the ACA’s subsidies for private insurance
  • End the Medicaid expansion
  • Eliminate the federally mandated health-insurance marketplaces
  • Allow states to seek waivers that let insurers charge sick patients higher premiums
  • Allow states to stop covering "essential benefits" defined under the ACA, such as maternity care or prescription drugs
  • Allow states to fund high-risk pools rather than spend their federal dollars to help residents obtain full-fledged insurance coverage

Various political and health-policy analysts believe the new bill will have difficulty mustering sufficient support to pass the Senate with 51 votes before September 30. That's the cutoff date (determined by the Senate Parliamentarian) before any healthcare measure becomes ineligible for "reconciliation"; after that, the bill would require 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster.