The Senate’s Silent and Deadly Health Care Repeal

Sarah Werner

Sarah Werner

Republican leaders in the Senate are very quietly – and very secretly – forcing through a radical health care repeal that threatens the lives of people across the country.

It’s up to us to make noise and demand our voices be heard:

In 2005, I was diagnosed with several brain tumors. Two surgeries and radiation later, I am still alive. I have yearly MRIs to keep the remaining tumors under observation. All this was done under Medicaid – AHCCCS – and without it, I would now be dead. I could never afford the cost of brain surgery, radiation and follow-up care. My grandchildren would never have known me, my family would have been left to mourn an early death. Thanks to comprehensive health care, I am alive and continue to contribute to society.

 

 

That’s Maria C. from Tucson, Arizona. She’s one of the more than twelve hundred people who have shared their stories about what’s at stake with the health care repeal, and what they stand to lose.

Maria refuses to be silenced by lawmakers about health care, and so do we. We’ll be sharing more stories like hers in coming days.

A Terrible Bill, Hidden in Secrecy

Back in May, political commentators insisted the House version of repeal would be “dead on arrival” in the Senate. Those commentators underestimated the right wing’s passion for gutting essential public services and funneling wealth back up to corporations and the rich.

Although Republican leaders are hiding their bill from the public, reports indicate that the Senate version of repeal is about as deadly as the House version.

The Senate bill will kick people off the Medicaid expansion; the only question is how quickly. It will cap care under the entire Medicaid program – not just the expansion – instead of continuing to fund Medicaid according to need. The repeal will slash subsidies to make premiums, deductibles, and copayments more affordable. And it will open the door to gutted insurance plans, with no coverage for services like maternity care or mental health.

There’s no mystery to why Republican leaders want to hide such an atrocious bill from public view while they cut secret deals to buy off the final needed votes. We, the public, believe each person should get health care, and we think repealing people’s health care – our own and others’ – is cruel and unjust. No closed-doors deals can redeem this legislation.

“We aren’t stupid,” a Republican Senate aide told a reporter, explaining the secrecy.

Meaning: they know we’ll hate the Senate bill as much as we hate the House bill, and Republican leaders don’t want us talking about it, let alone flooding their offices with calls or protesting.

We should be flooding senators’ offices with calls and protesting.

A Threat to Democracy That’s a Threat to Our Lives

The Affordable Care Act received 36 days of hearings. The bill to repeal it and gut Medicaid, which millions of Americans have relied on for over fifty years, will receive no public hearings. No hearings, no time for real open debate and amendments, no opportunity for people who will be profoundly harmed by the legislation to discuss the details with the lawmakers who are supposed to represent them.

Senate leaders want this atrocity passed by the end of the month. They want to celebrate July 4 after passing a bill taking health care away from tens of millions of their constituents, having deprived us of the right to participate and be heard.

That’s a profoundly undemocratic way to pass any legislation, let alone a bill that means life or death for millions of us.

Our Online Hearing

Even with the Senate secrecy, we know our lives are on the line. This week, People’s Action asked people to share personal stories about the health care they stand to lose with health care repeal. Within 24 hours, we were flooded with more than 1,200 stories from across the country.

The Senate may be refusing to hold hearings, but that doesn’t mean people should be silent. In the days to come, we’ll be sharing the stories that so many of you shared with us.

Don’t let lawmakers force you to silently accept this repeal of health care, which even they are too ashamed to admit. Let your voices rise up.

I am a diabetic who is on Medicaid in rural Alaska. In recent months, I’ve developed kidney stones and three times I had to travel from Sitka to Anchorage for treatment. On my first trip in September, just the hospital portion of the bill (four-hour outpatient procedure) cost $21,500, about what I made last year. That doesn’t include the diagnostic imaging studies, urologist, travel, etc. With Medicaid, my co-pay was only $225. Without Medicaid there’s no way I could have afforded the procedure, and kidney stones are extremely painful.

– Charles B., Sitka Alaska

I was saved from bankruptcy by the ACA. I didn’t have insurance prior to the ACA because I couldn’t buy it.

– Shoshanah S., Anchorage, Alaska

I have Medicare/Medicaid! I have M.S. and I need complicated care.

– Joseph H., Peoria, Arizona

I have type-II diabetes, glaucoma, and a demyelinating disorder. Prior to the ACA, only two companies would cover me and the cheapest of those wanted $6,000 a month for me alone. All that will be gone shortly and I will be totally without medical assistance.

– Walker Bennett, Sedona, Arizona

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Campaign for America's Future

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work