As dozens of people with disabilities flooded the U.S. Senate building on Monday to protest the Graham-Cassidy proposal, the Republicans' latest attempt to dismantle the national healthcare system, a coalition of more than 200 organizations sent a letter to senators opposing the bill.
"This proposal will eliminate affordable quality healthcare for millions of Americans by gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA); slash federal funding and destroy Medicaid by turning its funding into per capita caps; eliminate the Medicaid expansion; and defund Planned Parenthood health centers," the letter reads.
"We urge you to oppose passage of the Graham-Cassidy bill," it continues, "and instead focus on moving forward with bipartisan efforts on market stabilization and other critical issues to improve access to affordable healthcare for all people in the United States."
The Senate is currently considering the legislation, and is scheduled to vote on it this week, before the rules allowing passage by a simple majority expire. However, stated opposition from key Republican senators has led to speculation that the measure may not be put to a vote. Even so, opponents have remained committed to raising alarms about the proposal.
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The letter, signed by 237 organizations, details the coalition's concerns with several of the bill's provisions and highlights the ways the proposed law would impact individuals and families living in poverty, people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, individuals with disabilities, seniors, and individuals with limited English proficiency—in other words, "America's traditionally underserved communities, which our organizations represent."
The groups, led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Health Law Program, the National Partnership for Women & Families, are specifically concerned that:
- Underserved individuals and communities that have gained healthcare coverage through the ACA will lose it under this bill;
- Medicaid recipients—including "one of every five individuals in the United States, including one of every three children, 10 million people with disabilities, and nearly two-thirds of people in nursing homes"—will suffer because the bill halts Medicaid expansion and overhauls how the federal government distributes funding to the states;
- "The 'defunding' of Planned Parenthood would prevent more than half of its patients from getting affordable preventive care, including birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and well-women exams at Planned Parenthood health centers, often the only care option in their area;"
- Because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was unable to fully score the bill in time for the pending vote this week, "we do not yet have a complete understanding of the full devastation that Graham-Cassidy would bring."
"It is unconscionable to even contemplate dramatically altering one-sixth of the U.S. economy and taking away healthcare from millions of people without a full CBO score in hand," the letter reads.
Despite the lack of a full CBO score, "the analysis that is already available provides a stark picture," the letter notes—"one in which Graham-Cassidy would decimate the Medicaid program as we know it, end the Medicaid expansion, defund Planned Parenthood health centers, and rescind tax credits and cost-sharing reductions currently available to low-income individuals to purchase private coverage."