FactPower: Facts, figures, and talking points for Resistance activists.
WEEKLY ACTIONS: HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY
(Note: We will update this page frequently, including with additional action contacts. Please check back frequently. Last updated September 23, 2017, 2:27 PM EDT.) WHAT'S HAPPENING:
We're in the thick of it -- the third awful healthcare battle -- this time against Graham-Cassidy. The national activist response has been great so far, and it needs to continue until the end of the month. If you're feeling tired (and we all are), just remind yourself that what we're doing is saving lives -- literally -- a lot of them. That makes it all worthwhile. Also remember that this battle has consequences beyond healthcare. Every battle we fight and win lessens the credibility and legitimacy of the 115th congressional Republicans and the current president, and it impedes their agenda.
STATUS: So far there are two "NO" votes on the Graham-Cassidy bill, and we need three. One is from Rand Paul (R, KY), who doesn't support the bill because it does not repeal the ACA taxes. Many believe that vote could flip the other way. The other is from John McCain, who opposes the current Graham-Cassidy push only because of heavy-handed procedural grounds. (Otherwise he says he's not in disagreement with the bill.) Sens. Collins (R, ME) has not committed to a position yet, but she is a probable "NO."
Lisa Murkowski (R, AK) is a special case. She is playing coy and is trying to cut sweetheart deals for her state that would let Alaska keep the Obamacare subsidies AND receive the block grants AND possibly some other perks. We need to tell her with a clear voice that the rest of the country will not be sold out for a sweetheart deal for Alaska, and that we will retaliate with a boycott if that happens. (Please click the #BoycottAlaska image to send out a tweet right now!)
In the end, we feel we need FOUR "NO" votes, because Rand Paul could always flip back to "YEA."
Republicans are in their final push for a Graham-Cassidy vote. The CBO score is due Monday the 25th WITHOUT any scorings on coverage losses or impact on premiums. Dems are trying to convince the parliamentarian this is not an adequate scoring by Senate rules. There are other procedural issues -- possible violations of the Byrd Rule, which would require 60 votes instead of a simple majority. However, the GOP has hopped over similar hurdles with ease.
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee will be holding a sham hearing on Monday, September 25, 2:00 PM EDT (aired on CSPAN and HERE), so that they can tick that item off their list. As of the close of office hours on Friday, they have no idea who their 4 witnesses will be!
Important: We all need to send letters to the Senate Finance Committee prior to Monday, September 25, 1:00 PM EDT. For more information, please click the graphic to the right:
Even the Homeland Security Committee is having sham hearings on the bill, although it's anyone's guess what healthcare has to do with Homeland Security. (The Chair is Johnson, one of the cosponsors of the bill.)
Some sources will tell you this is not a threat, because there are too many procedural obstacles, time is too short, there are not enough votes, etc. Others will tell you the three votes are in the bag. Don't listen. FactPower has heard these same sorts of arguments every time we have declared an emergency, and we have not been wrong yet. Many, many others have been perpetually wrong, including legislators and their staffers, large organizations such as Indivisible, and journalists. Experience has told us it's not over 'til it's over.
SPECIAL NOTE TO OHIOANS: The Finance Committee has 26 members -- 14 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Only the Democrats are "NO" votes on the bill. However, Rob Portman (R, OH) is one of the Republicans. If he were to flip, there would be a tie vote in the committee, and the bill could not be passed to the floor. Rob Portman, by himself, can defeat this bill. So Ohioans, especially, need to be pressuring Portman to vote "NO!" According to the Senate Finance Committee staffers, they expect to have a mark-up draft of Graham-Cassidy ready for a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday and will vote for it then. Other than possibly Rob Portman, if we can flip him to a "NO," we have no Republican friends on the committee. If Graham-Cassidy does gather the needed votes and makes it to the floor for a vote, it would probably be Wednesday, Sept. 27.
We've provided bullet points on what's in the bill, below. Those points do not include more recent findings that an insurer will be able to raise a sick person's rates immediately, in the middle of a policy period, perhaps pricing that person immediately out of the market (e.g. with a cancer surcharge of $142,650 / year.
This bill will not have a full CBO scoring. The CBO estimated that 32 million Americans would lose coverage from a full repeal of the ACA, and that will have to serve as the best approximation we have to understanding this bill prior to any vote. In fact losses would be even greater, due to the steep funding cuts to Medicaid. FactPower has been pushing information on the rate of excess deaths that would occur nationally because of insurance loss. The number would be 38,554 deaths PER YEAR, or one September 11 event every month. We have a Tweetstorm Toolkit that quickly disseminates this information, including state-by-state breakouts of the national excess death rate.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION:
We need to hit our senators from all angles - phone calls, emails, Facebook posts, Twitter, etc. This is a Senate bill, so don't waste your efforts calling representatives. Whatever the Senate passes, the House will pass too.
First figure out how this bill affects YOU (or what part of it you object to the most). Then call/write/etc. to let them have it. We've provided contact information below. Don't get hung up too much in the technical details! Republican senators already know this bill is bad, and they know WHY it's bad. They know everyone hates it. They don't care about the numbers or the consequences. Their only motive is to pass a bill.
Therefore, our best approach is to show them it matters very much to us, and that we will walk through burning coals to see that they are brought down if they dare to vote for this trash heap of a bill. The only approach that will work, in our humble opinion, is total Shock and Awe. Keep the phones ringing. Stuff their in-boxes. Litter their Facebook pages with negative healthcare-related comments. Tweet at them like hell. And of course turn out in person to protest and visit their offices. To be clear, we cannot reason with them, so we must make them want to avoid another embarrassing showdown on the Senate floor.
But remember, this battle is worth it, not just for the lives that will be saved, but also for the impact this defeat will have on the Republican Party.
These are the bullet points:
If you buy your insurance from individual or small group markets (small business employer-sponsored plans), here's how much you will be paying in preexisting conditions surcharges (from theCenter for American Progress; Kaiser's Larry Levitt feels these figures are plausible):
We're hitting the Senate by land, air, and sea. Full contact information for every senator is at the bottom of this page:
CALL (best): Front desk phone numbers are given for the DC senate offices. If you can't get through, leave a message, and then call a district office. (Do a Google search for "senator _________." Look for office locations on their website.) Be nice to the junior staffers who answer the phones. They are friendly and helpful people, and they aren't responsible for policy decisions. Their job is to interface with constituents, to take down concerns, and to communicate them higher up.
EMAIL: We've provided Indivisible's list of health care staffer email addresses and have updated it periodically. This bypasses the web forms, which require entering addresses and zip codes.
Facebook: We've provided links to the the "Posts" sections of Senate Republican Facebook pages. You can post comments there to posts senators have made. According to staffers, they do take these posts seriously. We suggest littering the pages up everywhere you can with comments about healthcare!
Twitter: We've created this much-loved TWEETSTORM TOOL KIT! (Have fun.) We've also provided all the senators' Twitter handles below.
PHONE/EMAIL MESSAGE: Hi, my name is __________________, and I live in (city, state). I'm calling to urge Sen. _____________ to oppose the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. It would gut Medicaid, take insurance away from tens of millions of Americans, and bring back preexisting conditions discrimination. Tens of thousands of Americans would die every year from this bill, and that is immoral. [Optionally, tell them how it affects YOU personally, or tell them what you most hate about the bill.] Instead of Graham-Cassidy, I hope the senator will support a bipartisan fix from the HELP Committee. Please pass my comments to the senator.
If you would like to be helpful with a phone campaign outside of your own state, please consider participating inIndivisible's phone calling tool, which will give you a way to rally phone responses.
HIGHEST PRIORITY REPUBLICAN SENATORS: We are especially targeting the following senators, who are likely to make the biggest impact. If you have friends or relatives in these states, please try to get their help making constituent calls to demand opposition to Graham-Cassidy:
Committed "NAY" votes (good):
Kentucky: Sen. Rand Paul is a "NAY" vote for the wrong reasons -- because Graham-Cassidy doesn't repeal ACA taxes. Please call Paul's office and say NO MORE THAN that you're calling to express your support of his principled decision to oppose Graham-Cassidy. (See contact info below.)
Likely swing votes:
Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of our GOP heroes who voted "NAY" on the motion to proceed and blocked the skinny repeal. Alaska's governor voiced opposition to Graham-Cassidy. Murkowski's opposition is likely too, but she needs lots of loving nudges.
Maine: Sen. Susan Collins was another of our GOP heroes who voted "NAY" on the motion to proceed and blocked the skinny repeal. She has serious concerns about Medicaid cuts, coverage numbers, and the absence of a full CBO scoring.
Arizona: Sen. John McCain was one of our three GOP heroes to block the skinny repeal, but not because of any love of the ACA. His concerns then were that the bill was highly partisan and had not been taken through regular order. He might be persuaded the same thing applies here: (1) The bill is highly partisan. (2) It has not gone through any real hearings. (3) It will not be fully scored by the CBO. He is more likely to support a bipartisan plan out of the HELP Committee if that is available.
Ohio: Sen. Rob Portman teetered on the edge of opposing the BCRA, but ultimately supported it. Ohio has an opioid addiction crisis, and treatment depends greatly on Medicaid funding, which would be gutted in Ohio (a Medicaid expansions state). Graham-Cassidy would worsen the crisis, and Ohioans would die. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) opposes this bill for this and other reasons.
West Virginia: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito says, "There is still a lot of work to be done." She initially opposed the BCRA but was strong-armed by the president and Senate leadership to support it. Her concern then and now is the opioid addiction crisis in her Medicaid-expansion state. The impact of Graham-Cassidy would be even worse for West Virginia. In her own words, "I didn't come to Washington to hurt people." Hold her to that.
Nevada: Sen. Dean Heller is a cosponsor of Graham-Cassidy, even though he once opposed the BCRA. His flipping positions ultimately to vote in favor of the BCRA was the result of strong-arming by the president. However, he didn't have to cosponsor the worst bill the Republicans have produced yet. Remind him that he is betraying both his constituents and his governor with this bill, and you will remember it when you vote against him in 2018.
Senate Finance Committee: There will be a Finance Committee hearing on Graham-Cassidy on Monday, Sept. 25. These are the Republican committee members who are not mentioned elsewhere:
Utah: Sen. Orrin Hatch (Committee Chair)
Texas: Sen. John Cornyn
Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey
South Carolina: Tim Scott
Senate HELP Committee: The HELP Committee was until recently engaged in the (good) bipartisan process to fix the ACA, an effort that is in direct competition with Graham-Cassidy. Sen. Alexander abruptly announced no consensus could be reached, but we want to encourage the HELP Committee to continue working towards a compromise. These are the Republican committee members not mentioned elsewhere:
Tennessee: Sen. Lamar Alexander (Committee Chair) is potentially one of the good guys, at least if he reaches a good compromise position and gets it to the floor. We want to praise his spirit of bipartisanship and encourage continuation of the good work of his committee.
Wyoming: Sen. Mike Enzi was a first-class hyper-partisan jerk during the attempted skinny repeal process, but he has not committed to a position on Graham-Cassidy.
Misc. Republican Leaders not mentioned elsewhere:
Kentucky: Sen. Mitch McConnell (Majority Leader)
Texas: Sen. John Cornyn (Majority Whip)
Iowa: Sen Chuck Grassley (Judiciary Committee Chair)
South Dakota: Sen. John Thune (Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chair)
Georgia: Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ethics Committee Chair)
Idaho: Mike Crapo (Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Chair). Note: His name is pronounced "CRAY-po"
Kansas: Pat Roberts (Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chair)
North Carolina: Richard Burr (Intelligence Committee Chair)