Progressive groups and lawmakers continued to mobilize on Tuesday in response to Republicans' last-ditch attempt to cut off millions of Americans from healthcare by dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Following "red alerts" issued after weekend reports revealed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering a vote for a new bill crafted by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that's been called "Trumpcare by another name," several groups planned a Tuesday afternoon rally at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
— MoveOn.org (@MoveOn) September 19, 2017
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a video late Monday denouncing Senate Republicans' renewed efforts to repeal and replace the ACA.
Characterizing the Graham-Cassidy bill as "cruel and heartless," she said: "We can't allow a few Republicans burn down healthcare in America while they think no one is watching. We have millions of Americans on our side, and we will not sit down and shut up."
In addition to drastically cutting funds for Medicaid, the Graham-Cassidy bill would revoke the ACA's mandate that all Americans carry healthcare coverage or pay a fine, which helps keep premiums affordable. It would also rescind the ACA's requirement that large employers offer health insurance plans.
As Common Dreams reported Monday, a recent analysis, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) found the bill would also "gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions," and "cause many millions of people to lose coverage." The CBPP concluded that by 2027, the Graham-Cassidy plan "would be virtually identical to a repeal-without-replace bill."
Senate Republicans are working on a tight deadline; they only have until September 30 to pass the bill by a simple majority, or 50 votes. That time crunch means the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will not be able to fully score the proposal ahead of a vote. In other words, as Politico reported, "they'll be flying blind—not knowing the impact their plan will have on insurance coverage or premium costs," relying soley on a "bare-bones assessment" from CBO.
This revelation alarmed critics, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who on Tuesday tweeted:
It would be beyond comprehension for Republicans to proceed with their health care bill without knowing its impact on the American people. https://t.co/GpEEPhp3ZQ
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 19, 2017
In a statement, Our Revolution executive director Shannon Jackson called the Graham-Cassidy bill "a direct attempt to stop the momentum of our Medicare for All movement," referring to a bill Sanders introduced last week with notable support from nearly a third of Senate Democrats.
"We should be championing Medicare for All right now," Jackson continued, "but as Senator Sanders has said, the most urgent task at hand is protecting the Affordable Care Act from repeal."
National Nurses United co-president Deborah Burger, RN, also urged the Senate "to reject this heartless proposal and instead pass Senator Sanders' Medicare for All legislation."
"We have a healthcare crisis in this country, we see it every single day at the hospital bedside," said Burger. "Patients can't afford to see the doctor, they can't afford their medications, they can't afford lifesaving treatment. As a result, people suffer needlessly. The Graham-Cassidy [plan] will make this even worse than it is already."
Several other lawmakers, activists, and groups spoke out against the Graham-Cassidy bill on Tuesday:
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) September 19, 2017
I've said it before: Republicans are so desperate to repeal the ACA, they're willing to support a bill that hurts their own states. https://t.co/L7OkHUTiQO
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) September 19, 2017
Under this bill, pregnancy will cost you an extra 17K. Metastatic cancer 172K. Autism 5K. Asthma 4K. This isn't a healthcare bill.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) September 19, 2017
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 19, 2017
— UltraViolet (@UltraViolet) September 19, 2017
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) September 19, 2017
This post has been updated to include comments from National Nurses United.