CPEHN’s #Fight4OurHealth Policy Round-Up: Feb. 13 to Feb. 17
|The campaign to protect our health care is gaining momentum. More GOP lawmakers are facing local anger and concern at town hall meetings over plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement plan. Despite initial efforts to move quickly, there does not appear to be consensus in the GOP on a path forward. Nearly a half-dozen plans have been introduced or are coming — none with the broad support needed to get through Congress and win over the public. This makes it far more difficult to repeal a law the GOP has spent six years trying to kill.
Despite initial delays, several of the President’s controversial Cabinet picks were approved last week including Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Rep. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and, Congressman Tom Price (R-Georgia), as Health and Human Services Secretary. CPEHN joins others in registering our disappointment over the confirmations. We opposed the appointment of Rep. Session over his troubling history of racist remarks and anti-immigrant stances. We also raised concerns along with our Having Our Say (HOS) members about Rep. Price’s previous efforts to dismantle the ACA making health coverage inaccessible for millions of Californians including low-income families, women, seniors and individuals with pre-existing conditions. Price is expected to move quickly in his new role to potentially undermine the ACA through administrative actions. A short (hardly conclusive) list of possible changes includes:
As we look to the future, there is still much more work to do to defend our healthcare, protect our economic security and fight for the rights of all of our communities! CPEHN is actively engaged in the campaign to protect our health care. Check out CPEHN’s ACA Defense Hub to learn more about California’s #Fight4OurHealth campaign and how to get involved!
- Eliminating free birth control for women
- Making it harder to sign up for insurance during special enrollment periods
- Giving states greater flexibility to waive certain Medicaid requirements
- Eliminating enforcement of the individual mandate
Re-Cap of ACA Repeal Efforts:
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- February 7: Republican members discussed how to protect themselves from protesters upset about repealing the ACA. The fears were sparked by angry protests at Republican town halls, with one lawmaker escorted by police as the crowd chanted "shame!" This is a total flip from 2009 and 2010, when conservative protesters were accused of spitting on and hurling racial epithets at Democratic lawmakers because of the ACA. Republicans denied the accusations at the time.
- February 9: In the meantime, here in California, communities of color are working vigilantly to register their complaints. This week more than 1,000 constituents from the San Joaquin Valley made their way to Equity on the Mall to talk with their representatives about defending the ACA. Nikki Chan, Health Justice Organizer with Fathers and Families of San Joaquin says that despite the rain, Central Valley residents were able to meet with state policymakers to talk about the importance of maintaining access to health care for all Californians.
- February 10: Despite heavy opposition and ethics questions, Rep. Price is approved as HHS Secretary along party lines.
While the President’s Muslim travel ban has been stalled the attacks on our immigrant communities continue in the form of ICE raids in six cities across the country. ICE insists the raids were planned before the current administration took office, and there has been no change in policy, but the result felt by communities around the country is one of heightened fear and uncertainty. As of Saturday morning California officials say 161 people were arrested in Southern California. It’s not known how many were deported. We encourage our members to know their rights. Our Having Our Say partner CHIRLA has workshops and other helpful information for immigrants and their families. Additionally the National Immigration Law Center is hosting a webinar on Monday, Feb. 13, from 12 to 1 PM Pacific / 3 to 4 PM Eastern Time to discuss what is happening, how to respond and ways to express opposition to the raids.
Advocacy Actions for Partners:
- Hearings Continue in February: Over the coming weeks, the Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce committees will continue to hold hearings to discuss potential components of the reconciliation package. These hearings provide the Republicans the opportunity to vet their partial replacement ideas and advance their “ACA is broken” narrative. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced the intention to send the budget reconciliation legislation to President Trump by March or April according to reports from the press.
- Draft Budget Reconciliation Package Language Could Be Sent To CBO: The House is expected to send draft budget reconciliation language to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) by the end of this week. The CBO will analyze the proposed language and estimate the cost of the components and how the proposals will impact the number of individuals who have health insurance coverage. The final language may contain proposals to expand health savings accounts, establish high risk pools, enact per capita caps in Medicaid, and make changes to tax credits for purchasing private insurance.
- Budget Reconciliation Timeline: Moving the legislation through the House and Senate is expected to take three to four weeks. If Congress is able to meet this timeline, the budget reconciliation legislation will be sent to President Trump by late March or early April. However, as we have seen the timeline is proving to be extremely fluid and much is still uncertain.
- February 20-24 Congress is in Recess: Some members of Congress will be returning to their home districts for the February recess, making it an ideal time to make your voice heard loud and clear. Please read below for immediate actions you can take.
- Call your representative. Dial the Capitol switchboard at: (202) 224-3121 or click here.
- (You will be asked to type in your name, number, email and address, after which you will receive a short message with talking points before being patched through to your representative).
- Share your story. Tell us how the ACA has helped you or your family! Your Voice Counts!!!
- #GetLoud on #Fight4OurHealth!
- Get informed! Read our fact sheets about what is at risk in our health care and mental health.