In recent days, we have been working to mobilize our family, friends and everyone we know to make calls to their Senators to reject the cruel "health care" bill known in the House as the "American Health Care Act" and in the Senate as the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" -- especially folks in states with Republican Senators who have expressed reservations or concerns about the bill.
But we have sometimes found it hard to make the ask of relatives or friends who may not generally share our political views.
To simplify the conversation and the ask, we have developed this template for an email you can send to folks you want to reach out to, which focuses on health care as a nonpartisan issue that fundamentally affects everyone. We have also kept it non-HIV specific, since we know that HIV won't be the specific concern that will move some of these folks to action.
We wanted to share this resource with you all, in case it helps you mobilize your family and friends in key states to take action to kill this bill that will hurt us all tremendously.
Dear [insert name of family member or friend],
The Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, was released on Thursday. I am writing to you today, in a non-partisan effort, to talk about health care in the US and encourage you to contact your Senator. I believe that health care should not be a partisan issue.
The Better Care Reconciliation Act has a number of points that are concerning. What is the real substance of this bill? While we haven't yet seen the Congressional Budget Office scoring, the score is expected to reflect that more than 23 million Americans would lose health coverage.
Both sides agree that it would increase the cost of health insurance premiums overall and reduce tax credits available to offset these costs. It would cut funding to Medicaid, cap individual Medicaid spending and phase out coverage for people living with disabilities and seniors who qualified for Medicaid even before the ACA.
States would be allowed to apply for waivers that would remove coverage for basic medical care or essential health benefits such as outpatient care, emergency services, hospitalization, pregnancy, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drug coverage, rehabilitative services, laboratory services, preventative care, as well as pediatric services. Once again, people could be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions as well as facing lifetime benefit spending caps. It will change the basic definition of what constitutes health insurance.
People with pre-existing health conditions could be put in a "high-risk pool" that covers less and charges you more. What is considered a pre-existing medical condition? I was surprised to learn that acid reflux, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, heart burn, lupus, migraines, obesity, pending surgery or hospitalization, pregnancy or expectant parenthood (including fathers) and sleep apnea are all considered pre-existing conditions. There are many, many more.
The AHCA and the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 would also repeal ACA taxes on corporations and cut taxes for those making $250,000 per year or more by about $592 billion dollars. This tax money had previously been used to assist in covering the cost of insurance subsidies and maintaining the federal health exchange marketplace. It would decrease the stability of the Medicare Trust Fund, thus endangering the future of Medicare for seniors over 65.
There is a growing list of well over 50 organizations that oppose the AHCA and the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Here are a few that have voiced their opposition: AARP, American Hospital Association, Families USA, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Action Network, American Public Health Association, March of Dimes, National Disability Rights Network and the National Education Association.
I hope these facts will move you to make phone calls, send emails and tweet your Senator's asking them to vote NO on the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.
Please use the following link to locate your legislators contact information https://www.callmycongress.com/ or http://whoismyrepresentative.com/
If you'd like a script to use when calling, please consider using the scripts below.
Hello, my name is (full name). I am a constituent of Senator _________ and live in _(city and state). Can you tell me Senator _________'s position on the Better Care Reconciliation Act?_
If the Senator does not support the Better Care Reconciliation Act:
I am glad to hear that Senator _________ is voting no. The Better Care Reconciliation Act would take away health care for millions of Americans, including many in our state. I appreciate the Senator protecting our health care. I will be following Senator __________'s vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act and it will factor into my vote come their time for reelection.
If the Senator supports or has no position yet on the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017:
I am disappointed to hear that. The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 would take away health care for millions of American, including many in our state. It would cut the Medicaid program, increase premiums and allow states to get rid of protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
I want to be clear that as a constituent of Senator __________'s, I am asking them to vote no on the Better Care Reconciliation Act. It will impact me and many others in our state. I will be following how Senator ________ votes on this bill and it will factor into my vote come their time for reelection.
If you would rather not use a script please consider mentioning these facts when reaching out to your Senators:
- The Better Care Reconciliation Act endangers seniors. As noted by AARP, the bill includes an "age tax" that would allow insurance companies to charge older American's thousands of dollars more for their health coverage than everyone else.
- The bill weakens Medicare, as decreasing revenues would impact support available for elderly Americans.
- The bill cuts coverage and services for those who rely on Medicaid, which provides care for 1 in 5 Americans. We would face the prospect of witnessing elderly and impoverished people being ejected from nursing homes or long-term care facilities due to loss of Medicaid support.
- The bill would devastate people with chronic diseases and disabilities. There are many chronic illnesses that can be very successfully treated, but the treatment must be continuous. Some people cannot lose access to health care for even a few weeks without suffering extreme consequences.
- The Bill attempts to evade responsibility by shifting the decision making and the financial burden back to the states. States will be forced to make horrific decisions about who will be covered and for how much, essentially deciding who will live and who will die because their budgets cannot absorb this massive cost-shift.
- The bill would severely undermine the Healthcare segment of our economy. A significant portion of our nation's economy has now been built to support the current health care system. Hospitals have increased capacity to provide health care for all. Insurance companies rely on stability to continue to offer plans for those who need them. The bill's economics simply do not make sense and would endanger one sixth of our national economy.
- If you have health insurance through your company, you might not have access either. The bill eliminates the mandate requiring employers above a certain size to offer coverage to their workers.
Once you have finished calling, please post this letter on social media to encourage your friends and family members to act.
- I just talked to Senator (insert their name here or tag them on FB) about the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Senate's version of the American Health Care Act. I asked them to vote NO on this important bill. Please join me by reaching out to your Senator. (ATTACH LINK TO LETTER HERE)
- Please read this non-partisan letter, health care should be available for all Americans. Then call YOUR Senator! (ATTACH LINK TO LETTER HERE)
- I called @(twitter handle here) to share my concern w/Senate health bill. ALL Americans deserve Health Care- Please join me #ProtectOurCare
Kari Hartel and Barb Cardell are PWN-USA Colorado co-chairs.