Resistance Urged to 'Light Up the Phones' as Zombie TrumpCare Bill Gains Traction
New amendment allows states to opt out of Essential Health Benefits, charge more for pre-existing conditions, satisfying the demands of conservative Republicans
The GOP healthcare bill that will not die has now secured support from the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, spurring a frantic call to action for voters to "light up the phones" and pressure moderate Republicans to abandon the effort, which would strip 24 million people of their healthcare and raise the rates for those most in need.
Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), co-chair of the moderate Republican Tuesday group, and House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) introduced an amendment to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that allows states to opt out of a number of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, satisfying the demands of conservative Republicans who want to see the healthcare law repealed entirely.
According to The Hill, the Meadows-MacArthur amendment "managed to flip a number of prominent conservatives from no to yes, including Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.)," as well as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Meanwhile, all eyes on are the latest whip count as the House GOP turns up the pressure on Republican centrists.
Further, Politico reports, "The White House has seized on the conservative momentum to call for a vote this week, ahead of President Donald Trump's 100th day in office on Saturday. But as of Thursday morning, no vote had been scheduled as leaders continued to take the temperature of skittish members."
"We have 48 hours to defeat TrumpCare... again. And it's going to come down to YOUR constituent power," organizers with the Indivisible resistance movement declared late Wednesday.
The group has put together a new resource, which includes talking points for office visits and phone calls, and is urging opponents to "make sure that your representatives are committed not only to upholding the ACA as a law but supporting it as a means for affordable healthcare coverage for millions of Americans."
The Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund has similarly published a TrumpCare toolkit complete with the contact information for potential swing votes.
As of early Thursday, Topher Spiro, vice president for Health Policy at CAP, wrote online that "[t]hey do not have the votes right now. Meeting at 5 to decide whether to vote this week. Need TIDAL WAVE OF CALLS."
(Meanwhile, according to reports, House Democrats are also threatening to block a short term spending bill if the TrumpCare vote is held this week).
Here are the ~30 "moderates" we need to lock down against Zombie Trumpcare. They're making up their minds now. CALL NOW. (And please RT.) pic.twitter.com/GCmUK43DPQ
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) April 26, 2017
This is serious: moderates may go along with Zombie Trumpcare. The time to act is now: LIGHT UP THE PHONES. https://t.co/FPvzxG4UkC
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) April 26, 2017
TRUMPCARE UPDATE: They do not have the votes right now. Meeting at 5 to decide whether to vote this week. Need TIDAL WAVE OF CALLS. (pls RT)
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) April 27, 2017
This is not a drill. It's up to us. We have 48 Hours to Save the Affordable Care Act. Get to work. https://t.co/pSL9lWtRsa
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) April 27, 2017
Under the plan, which Common Dreams previewed last week, states would be allowed to waive rules that require health plans to cover the Essential Health Benefits or prohibit plans from charging people more for pre-existing conditions.
Alternately, those states would set up so-called "high-risk pools," which Politico notes, were "tried by about three dozen states, red and blue, in the years before the Affordable Care Act to cover people with expensive medical conditions. Most of the pools didn't work, leaving countless people with cancer, diabetes, and other expensive diseases with inadequate coverage—if they had anything at all."
Those undecided Republicans are justifiably uneasy. An ABC News/Washington Poll (pdf) published earlier this week found that a full 70 percent of Americans say "coverage for pre-existing conditions should be mandatory nationwide rather than left up to the states." This includes 54 percent of declared Republicans.
On Wednesday, a coalition representing 560,000 physicians and medical students sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), expressing concern over the new compromise bill, warning that the "pending legislation proposals would dramatically increase costs for older individuals, result in millions of people losing their health care coverage, and return to a system that allows for discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions."