We Can't Afford to Sit This Out

On Friday, May 5, Republicans rammed through a terrible bill to repeal Obamacare.  Their bill would have disastrous effects on millions in our country.  Although the exact “scoring” of this bill has not been completed, it’s pretty similar to the bill that came before, under which 24 million people would lose their health insurance, 130 million people with pre-existing conditions would be put at risk, and the very wealthy would receive a huge tax cut. 

In the GOP’s previous version, the top 1% of taxpayers would get an average of $36,000 back per year, the top .1% would get $207,000 a year tax cut, and the wealthiest 400 families would get an average of $7 million back per year. 

Note: If you are a Responsible Wealth member or other upper-income/upper-wealth person, you stand to particularly benefit from this change.  So you have a particular responsibility, and opportunity, to use your voice to influence Congresspeople in your state, and others in Congress to whom you make contributions.  Please make the calls below and make clear that you are a wealthy/upper-income person!

Overall, the Republican plan would take $1 trillion over ten years out of the health care system, and much of that would go into the pockets of those who need it least. 

Don’t sit back and let this bill become law.

It might seem that the only reason for passing this wrong-headed bill is to stick it to Obama, and carry out a heartless promise made over and over by Republicans during the 7 years since Obamacare was enacted.  Obamacare clearly has its shortcomings, which need to be fixed.  And some Republicans have legitimate ideological differences about whether and how the government should be involved in health insurance.  But the real reason for pushing this bill through now, as this NYT article explains, is that it lowers the government’s “tax revenue baseline” in advance of further tax cuts that Trump and the GOP want to push through.  That’s pretty cynical, if you ask me.

Many of us hoped the House wouldn’t be able to pass this harmful bill after failing the first time around.  But they did.  Now it’s the Senate’s turn.  We may hope that cooler and wiser heads will prevail in the Senate, and will block this damaging proposal from moving forward.  But don’t count on it.  The Senate is already at work crafting their own proposal to replace Obamacare.  We can’t sit idly by and hope the Senate comes up with something better.

There are a number of possible scenarios for how this might play out.  For example, the Senate is likely to pass something very different from the House, and then the two chambers would have to meet in conference to hash something out mutually agreeable; any such compromise would still hurt millions of individuals.  The Senate might choose to suspend their tradition of requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster (the Byrd Rule), which they did in order to push through Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.  Or they might use a process called reconciliation, which allows them to pass budgets with only 51 votes, but such budgets cannot permanently lower tax revenue.  Beyond the Senate, there are additional hurdles that this bill would have to clear to become law, but it’s important to stop it now. 

We can’t afford to sit back and let the Senate make the same mistake the House just did.  “That couldn’t happen in this country” is no longer a reasonable statement. 

Please don’t sit this one out!  It may not affect your health care coverage, but it affects the coverage of 24 million of your neighbors (plus 130 million with pre-existing conditions) and would contribute to growing inequality in this country

PLEASE take a moment RIGHT NOW to call your Senators at 202-224-3121 and ask them to do whatever they can to OPPOSE repeal of Obamacare.  It’s your voice, and the voice of millions of others like you, that will sway Senators.  Make sure your voice is one of the voices they hear.  Call 202-224-3121 today (twice!) and tell your Senators that:

  1. you oppose the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA),

  2. you oppose any bill that takes away health care coverage from anyone, and

  3. you oppose any bill that shifts resources from the poor to the wealthy in this country.  If you are wealthy, let them know that!

THANK YOU for taking a stand.
  Please let us know that you’ve made the calls, and anything you learned from the calls.

The Senate is in session through May 26, so call them at the DC number above; the House is in recess, so try to visit them or call them at their district offices, or go to a Town Hall meeting if they are brave enough to hold one!

One final imporant point: In 2014, UFE wrote our annual State of the Dream report, titled “Healthcare for Whom?” on this topic.  It’s free online, or let us know and we’ll happily send you a copy.  In that report, we found that medical debt is a leading cause of bankruptcy and job loss for all groups, regardless of race, but Blacks are three times as likely and Latinos are twice as likely as Whites to file for bankruptcy due to medical debt (p. 21).

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