So the Obamacare repeal process is underway, and millions of Americans are on their way to being uninsured and without access to affordable healthcare.
Despite Trump’s continuing and bigly reassuring claims that there will be a replacement (“So we’re going to do repeal and replace — very complicated stuff,” he told the New York Times) and that certain elements of Obamacare will be preserved, none of this looks remotely likely as things stand. The idea that there will be an effective, comprehensive, agreeable plan for a replacement by January 27 (the deadline Republicans have set committees for drafting repeal legislation) is laughable, and yesterday Republican senators voted against those elements of the Affordable Care Act Trump said were worth protecting, like provisions for preexisting conditions.
Even if you don’t rely on the Affordable Care Act, there are thousands of people who do. Many of them oppose "Obamacare" because that is what partisan politics has trained them to do, without realizing it is the Affordable Care Act they rely on. Many dependents voted for Trump because they thought he would never actually take it away.
So what can you do to stop them?
Democrats do not have the numbers to block the current repeal plans in either the House (241-194) or the Senate (52-48). But there are a number of moderate Republican senators who genuinely want a replacement, and have shown hesitation towards repealing without simultaneous replacement. Our best hope is convincing Republican senators to oppose the repeal bill when it comes back to the Senate if there is no viable replacement, because a handful of votes could make all the difference there.
Advice coming from the office of Senator Elizabeth Warren is to call these wavering senators, from Tennessee, Alaska, Ohio, Maine, and Louisiana respectively:
Add to this list Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee (202-224-4944), Tom Cotton of Arkansas (202-224-2353), John McCain of Arizona (202-224-2235) and influential Congressmen Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania (202-225-6411) and Mark Meadows of North Carolina (202-225-6401), who have all expressed doubts about abolishing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.
Bear in mind, all of the above senators still ended up voting for the repeal-initiating budget yesterday anyway — Senator Rand Paul was the only Republican to vote against (call to congratulate? 202-224-4343). And ultimately, they all want to see Obamacare gone. But they are concerned about their constituents being without insurance in the interim (or indefinitely, which is no doubt some Republicans' true intention). Make sure you tell them you are, too.
Many people have never called their representative, but calls can absolutely make a difference, as was shown earlier this week. If you live in these senators’ states, you need to call and tell them their gut instinct to wait for a replacement is correct. Get your grandma to call, get your boyfriend to call, get your siblings to call. Just call.
If you don’t live in one of these states, get your friends who do to call. You can also find your own local representatives here. If you are represented by other Republicans in either the House or the Senate, it's worth making your thoughts clear to them as well.
Care about access to birth control or cancer screenings? Bring those up, and express your anger at Republicans voting against keeping those provisions yesterday.
If you’re really nervous and find the exact details of the Affordable Care Act confusing (which they are), there are scripts floating around to help you.
Make sure you spread the word to any friends in Tennessee, Alaska, Ohio, Maine, Louisiana, Arkansas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina that their phone calls could quite seriously save the health insurance— and possibly the lives— of millions of people in all the states.
Top photo: Flickr/Creative Commons
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