Like a bad Hollywood action flick, the Republican “repeal and replace” juggernaut just won’t go away. And every sequel is worse than the last.
Three times over the past summer the Senate narrowly rejected plans that would have taken away 20 to 30 million Americans’ access to healthcare in order to finance tax cuts for the 1%. Opinion polls show that the American people resoundingly oppose these attacks. In fact, popular resistance to Trumpcare has awoken the sleeping giant as more and more Americans have come to the conclusion that they want to do more than preserve the status quo. They want to fight for the right to health care.
Nevertheless, they persisted.
The current sequel–the Graham Cassidy Bill–may be the worst yet. It would cut funding to the states that have expanded Medicaid coverage to the working poor and ultimately turn Medicaid into a block grant program with massive funding cuts while also eliminating the pre-existing conditions protection and other private insurance provisions of the ACA. It may even outlaw state single-payer initiatives.
The deadline for the passage of this abomination is September 30 so of course there will be no time for serious debate or analysis. Some are predicting that up to 32 million Americans will lose coverage by 2026 while millions more will face huge increases in the cost of their private insurance.
This would all be a sick joke of the “tragedy to farce” variety if the consequences weren’t so serious. The Senate will likely vote next week and it will all come down to a few swing votes. This time we can’t count on John McCain to do the right thing as he is a key political ally of Lindsey Graham, one of the co-sponsors.
So, once again, it is all hands on deck to kill the bill. We should all know the drill by now. The AFL-CIO has set up a hotline to call your Senator today. Please mobilize your fellow union members and your neighbors to get on the phones and get in front of their Senators’ offices. And, of course, it will all come down to a few swing votes so please contact anyone you know in Alaska, Maine, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin and West Virginia and ask them to get on the phone and on the street.
Defeat of this horrific bill will clear the way to begin the debate about the kind of healthcare that Americans want and need. In a recent op ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Postal Workers President Mark Dimondstein lays out the case for why Medicare for All will benefit union workers with comparatively good health coverage. The APWU will be joining a number of other national unions who will be calling on the AFL-CIO to endorse and actively work for the Sanders Medicare for All Bill introduced into the U.S. Senate on September 13.
We are at a watershed moment in the fight for healthcare justice. Let’s do all we can to stop this attack on the healthcare we have and prepare to fight tomorrow for the healthcare we need.