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. WHAT'S HAPPENING:
4:00 PM EDT Tues 9/26/2017: There is now more word that Senate Republicans will not be bringing Graham-Cassidy to a vote. SEE HERE. They are now rudderless on the issue. Some voices suggest bipartisan solutions should be pursued again through the HELP Committee, which had made progress before Graham-Cassidy. Other voices suggest the ACA should be allowed (or more accurately, made) to fail.
2:26 PM EDT Tues 9/26/2017: Senators met over lunch to discuss the future of Graham-Cassidy. Sen. Roberts, exiting the lunch, said "appears not" on whether there will be a vote, but that decision was still up to Graham, Cassidy, and McConnell. Now there is word that Graham-Cassidy is dead, from a FactPower's unnamed source in the Senate. We should learn more this afternoon. We are cautiously very optimistic, but we would like to emphasize THE HEALTHCARE INSURANCE WAR IS NOT OVER. REPUBLICANS WILL ATTACK AGAIN. That said, if Graham-Cassidy is truly dead, then insurance companies sign their exchange contracts by tomorrow (Wednesday). When that happens, I think Obamacare is saved for 2018. Check back for more updates.
Update 2:24 PM Tues 9/26/2017: Things are happening fast, so I'll just post updates here at the top as information comes in. Otherwise it's hard to stay on top of editing. After things stabilize or slow down, I'll do another major edit.
1:25 PM EDT Tues 9/26/2017:
Well, kids, we might have won this battle! (Might!) The press is all but declaring victory, but most of their declarations of victory in the past have been wrong. A lot has taken place really fast. I'll try to recap briefly, but we still have is a battlefield strewn with bodies. It's still a bit messy and confusing, and all the generals are still busy strategizing.
First, let me begin by thanking everyone for the awesome response! Everyone turned out in droves for the final push, which was truly dramatic. There were approximately 27,000 letters written for inclusion in the official record of the Senate Finance Committee hearing Monday! Holy cow! This was in combination with a huge wave of phone calls and emails, as well as a ferocious Twitter assault! We faded a bit in the final hour, but the disability activists were there outside and inside the hearing room to remind them we meant business. And they were amazing!
Although there were hundreds of protesters at the hearing, we were only able to hear 20 of them, all disabled, who were able to cram in the visitors' gallery of the tiny hearing room. The GOP chose the smallest room on purpose, simply to limit their disruption of the hearing. The remaining protesters were lining the halls outside, and we saw them on the news. When Sen. Hatch called the hearing to order, there was no order. The protesters loudly chanted and wouldn't stop. Hatch had to call a recess so that the police could clear the gallery. Sadly, about 200 protesters were arrested. We owe them so much for their bravery!
Even after the hearing was called back to order, chanting continued. It could be heard through the doorway and the walls. Hatch threatened to shut down the hearing completely, but he didn't carry through. Chanting could be heard periodically for perhaps an hour thereafter.
The hearings were a sham, just as we expected. Cassidy was on the defensive, and he sounded like a slick used-car salesman. His testimony was stuffed with lie after lie. The Republicans put on a truly shameful performance.
During all of this, Sen. Collins declared she would be a "NO" on Graham-Cassidy. Previously, McCain had declared himself a "NO" because of procedural issues (ONLY). Paul had declared himself a "NO" because Graham-Cassidy didn't repeal the ACA taxes. And Cruz had declared himself a "NO" because Graham-Cassidy didn't go far enough to deregulate the insurance industry. Collins' and McCain's votes are pretty solid. Cruz could easily flip. Paul is probably not going to be the third of three "NO" votes. He'll be "NO" if there are 4 or more "NO" votes or if there are 2 or fewer. Therefore his vote is possibly meaningless. The take-home is that our victory is not yet "solid."
We are still looking to Murkowski to declare she is "NO." If she does, then the bill is probably convincingly dead for this go-round, and Americans will have ACA coverage in 2018. (Probably!) Short of that declaration, I think we're still looking to run out the clock to midnight, October 1, hoping that nobody flips. The path forward for Republicans might be to give Cruz whatever he wants to flip from a NO to a YES. Then Paul will be in the hot seat as one of the three senators standing in the way of the bill. He could fold, leaving only two NO votes -- not enough to block the bill. The vote after that could be very swift -- perhaps within hours.
McConnell made some remarks on the Senate floor Monday afternoon that were somewhat vague. He suggested Graham-Cassidy had stalled out, and he thanked the bill's authors for their work. However, the Majority Whip, John Cornyn, says a vote is still possible, even if it fails, to please the Republican base.
THEREFORE WE MUST BE CAREFUL NOT TO DECLARE VICTORY TOO EARLY, AND WE CANNOT LET UP. Again, it's not over until the clock runs out, midnight, October 1. We could still lose our NO votes. Above all, we need to keep hammering Murkowski. If we can get her NO vote, then we can probably (PROBABLY!) pop the champagne corks at the successful close of this battle. But make no mistake: There will probably be more battles on this issue.
What will come next? This zombie repeal/replace effort could be resurrected under reconciliation as an amendment to the budget; however, that could impair the Republicans' ability to glom tax reform into the budget reconciliation. They may have to choose between the two, and if so, tax reform will probably win out. You can read more about the strategy in this excellent article.
Meanwhile, FactPower is still at work. We are exhausted, but there's work to do. The CBO analysis came out Monday night, and we will be reading it. We will also be watching for further developments and will be ready to sound the alarm if anything crazy happens.
MURKOWSKI: 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 her opposition to Graham-Cassidy to solidify our win, as well as a durable opposition to repeal/replace in the intermediate future. We need to tell her with a clear voice that we appreciate her opposition to the BCRA, but we also need her to oppose Graham-Cassidy. The rest of the country will not be sold out for a sweetheart deal for Alaska, and we will retaliate with a boycott if that happens. (Please click the #BoycottAlaska image to send out a tweet right now!)
SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE: According to a Senate Finance Committee staffers, 2:00 PM Tues, they are awaiting instructions from Chairman Hatch as to how they will proceed (or not). Almost anything is possible. A markup may happen, or it might not. The bill might proceed to the floor, or it might not. If a Senate floor vote is to happen, it would probably be Wednesday.
CBO SCORING: The preliminary CBO scoring of Graham-Cassidy is available HERE. We have not studied it yet. Previously, the CBO estimated that 32 million Americans would lose coverage from a full repeal of the ACA, and they have not had the time to refine this number with their most current analysis of Graham-Cassidy. It is believed 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. Based on the 32 million number, 38,554 excess deaths would occur 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.
DETAILS OF THE GRAHAM-CASSIDY BILL: 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. (See "HOW TO TAKE ACTION" section below.)
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 "NO" votes (good):
Kentucky: Sen. Rand Paul (202-224-4343) is a "NO" 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.)
Arizona: Sen. John McCain (202-224-2235) is a "NO" vote because he doesn't believe in the way the bill is being rammed through without proper hearings and markups. He is not persuaded by the current sham process. Please call him to thank him for his principled position and to tell him he is saving American lives -- a LOT of them. You should use the term "hero," because it certainly applies.
Texas: Ted Cruz (202-224-5922) is a "NO" because he feels the bill doesn't go far enough to deregulate the insurance industry. His "NO" could easily flip to a "YES" if the right modifications are made to the bill. (The GOP is working on that.) Please call Cruz's office to express support for his position against Graham-Cassidy, without explaining why you support it.
Likely swing votes:
Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (202-224-6665) 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, as well as respectful but firm reminders that we will boycott her state if she sells us out by taking the GOP's sweetheart deal for Alaska.
Maine: Sen. Susan Collins (202-224-2523) 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. Please tell her we love her and look forward to her being one of our three principled heroes again!
Ohio: Sen. Rob Portman (202-224-3353) 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. NOTE THAT PORTMAN IS ON THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE! If he can be flipped to a "NO," then he can stall the bill in committee, which would be deadlocked at 13 YES vs. 13 NO. Go get him, Ohioans!
West Virginia: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (202-224-6472) 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)