URGENT #txlege Opportunity for Action on Jan. 31

URGENT! TEXAS SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE HEARING ON HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, JANUARY 31, 2017!

UPDATE: We just received word that this hearing will recess sometime around 10:30 am, and will likely reconvene some time after NOON. Please plan your day accordingly if you plan to attend to give testimony.

PLEASE RSVP and plan to join us at the Capitol on Tuesday starting at 9 a.m. in room E1.036!

Texans targeted by drastic cuts to the state’s health and human services (HHS) budget (Article 2) need your support on January 31st!

If you think Texas should have a robust Medicaid program, strong supports for children with special needs, provide services to adults with disabilities so they can work and live full lives, and don’t want the Texas legislature to slash funding, SHOW UP.

Come to the Capitol and show your support for resisting the Senate’s proposed budget. We need folks who can:

  • Attend the hearing and keep the room full to show our support for halting cuts to Medicaid
  • Sign up to give oral testimony (more details to come in comments below)
  • Write and turn in written testimony (more details to come in comments below)
  • Speak with the media about how cuts to the state’s Medicaid budget harm them and/or their families.

BACKGROUND:
The committee is taking public testimony on the HHS section of the Senate Budget put forth by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Jane Nelson. The Senate budget includes nearly half a billion dollars in cuts to health and human services, which would devastate medical care and services that Texas children and families rely on. The Senate bill also fails to provide funding to cover Medicaid for the full two years of the next budget.

People who will be harmed by these cuts include:

  • Children who get their health insurance through Medicaid
  • People with disabilities
  • Low-income seniors, and
  • Pregnant women

Your presence and your testimony can make a difference for millions of Texans.

Unite against Tom Price – or we all pay the price in future healthcare costs

“We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.”

From Maya Angelou’s “Human Family”

If you’ve been paying attention to the news and social media lately, Angelou’s sentiment about our similarities may seem questionable at the moment. We appear to be a nation deeply divided on the majority of issues. To complicate matters further, the press, the pundits, and the politicians sow even more discontent by perpetually highlighting these divisions. No one seems to be able to agree on how to right the ship and sail on to a more prosperous America for all.

However, one of the things that we are mostly united about is the importance of quality, affordable healthcare for everyone.

  • The Pew Research Center recently published a report concluding that sixty percent of Americans believe that the government “should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, compared with 38% who say this should not be the government’s responsibility.”
  • Additionally, in a poll evaluating healthcare priorities for 2017, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reports that 67% of Americans believe that lowering out-of-pocket healthcare costs is a top priority for the incoming administration.
  • 61% also think that a reduction in the cost of prescription drugs should be a top priority, according to the same KFF study.

These statistics, along with the growing movement to save the Affordable Care Act, indicate that we are not as divided as it may seem. Constituents in both Aurora, Colorado and Spokane, Washington gained national attention by gathering at public events and demanding answers to their healthcare concerns. Despite this growing unification, the incoming administration continues to push repeal. The Congressional Budget Office reports that the repeal will have the opposite effect of what most of us want – in fact, it will result in the loss of coverage for many and the increase in premiums for all.

Tom Price, Trump’s nominee for the department of Health and Human Services, has been an outspoken critic of the ACA. He even authored a bill devised to repeal it. Of further concern is his voting record and stance on reproductive rights. Mr. Price’s policies do not reflect those of the majority of Americans.

It is vital that we keep the pressure on our elected officials to block these nominations and save the Affordable Care Act. Call John Cornyn , Ted Cruz , and your local representative . If you’re at a loss for words, be sure to use the excellent scripts provided here. If possible, organize a group to meet with your representatives about the serious healthcare issues facing us as Texans.

Kendall Shearman

Audio from #SaveACA Conference Call Available

Thanks to everyone who was able to join the call last night, and to our guest speakers.

This week Congress voted to move forward with the process of instructing Committees — including the House Ways and Means Committee chaired by Texas Congressman Kevin Brady — to begin writing up repeal legislation that would go around the normal Senate filibuster process.
Congressional leaders are still aiming to get the repeal legislation to the President’s desk by February 20th.

Many Texas representatives will play important roles in drafting the repeal legislation. Two committees are responsible for the legislation–Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce. Is your member of Congress on this list?

Way & Means:

(D) Lloyd Doggett TX-35 RANKING MEMBER

(R) Kevin Brady TX-8, CHAIR

Ways & Means Health Subcommittee:

(R) Sam Johnson TX-3

(R) Kenny Marchant TX-24

Energy & Commerce

(R) Pete Olson TX-22

(R) Bill Flores TX-17

Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee

(D) Gene Green TX-29, RANKING MEMBER

(R) Michael Burgess TX-26, CHAIR

Joe Barton TX-6

Additional Texas ACA Resources

Defending Health Care in 2017: What Is at Stake for Texas (FamiliesUSA)

Get Health Insurance Through Your Employer? ACA Repeal Will Affect You, Too (Health Affairs Blog)

Interactive Maps: Estimates of Enrollment in ACA Marketplaces and Medicaid Expansion (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Repealing Federal Health Reform: Economic and Employment Consequences for States (Commonwealth Fund)

You can listen to the call recording here:

The Truth and Consequences of the ACA repeal

During his farewell address, President Obama asked us to remember as we go forward that “…laws alone won’t be enough.  Hearts must change.  If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Essentially, President Obama is asking us to have empathy for one another.

It’s not difficult to empathize with the millions of people who will be affected by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Since the Senate’s middle of the night voterama on the morning of January 12th , 2017, which began the repeal of Obamacare, thousands of people have taken to social media ( using the hashtag #SaveACA) and shared the ways in which the ACA has benefited them and what it would mean if it were entirely repealed. Bernie Sanders, as well as other progressives, denounced the repeal as a death sentence for thousands of people per year.

What is more difficult to empathize with is Republican lawmakers’ reckless “repeal and run” attitude towards a program that provides healthcare to many who had limited or non-existent care before now.

As with any new program, the ACA has suffered its share of hiccups and criticisms. One of the main causes for concern among constituencies is how premiums and deductibles rose after Congress passed the ACA. It’s important to understand that one of the reasons this happened is purely political.

When the ACA was passed, Medicaid expansion in the states was intended to be part and parcel of expanding coverage to very low-income people. But many states with Republican leadership declined to expand Medicaid (Texas is the largest state that refused to expand Medicaid).  Likewise, Congress had ample opportunity since the law’s original passage to fix problems that would make the law’s implementation more effective and would positively impact the state insurance marketplaces, but under Republican leadership it has refused.

What is the reported cost to the American taxpayer of this repeal? An estimated $350 billion dollars over the next ten years.

Who does this repeal stand to benefit the most? The wealthiest 400 families in the country. The following graphic illustrates how certain elements of this repeal would stand to benefit those who need no help at all:

Do you disagree with the Republican leaders underhanded tactics in effecting this repeal? Do you think a suitable replacement should be devised before millions of people are left without healthcare insurance? Are you tired of polices that benefit the few while taxing the masses into oblivion?

If you’re in Texas, please call John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, and your district’s representatives. You can access a script in regards to this issue by clicking here. Also, browse this site for other grassroots ways to get involved!

Kendall Shearman

 

*URGENT* #SaveACA Conference Call TONIGHT 7 pm CST

Everyone is invited to join a conference call this evening to discuss critical strategies to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Congress began the process of dismantling this law that protects the health and lives of millions of Americans last night.

UPDATE: Tonight’s call will focus on Texas, but the topics and tactics will be useful for anyone interested in advocating to stop repeal and save our healthcare.

Thanks to the Children’s Defense Fund-Texas for convening this informational call!

We’ll be joined by two of Texas’ top healthcare policy advocates at the beginning of the call, and then provide plenty of time for Q&A.

Cheasty Anderson, Health Policy Associate, Children’s Defense Fund-Texas
Melissa McChesney, Healthcare Outreach Coordinator (contractor), Center for Public Policy Priorities

Call-in #: 641-552-9245

PIN: 283674

Simply dial the number above and follow the prompts.