Following a damaging Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score and unrelenting pressure from healthcare activists, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate’s vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act would be delayed until after the July 4th recess, likely because he did not have enough Republican votes to push the legislation through.
McConnell’s June 27th announcement to delay the vote came just as healthcare advocates kicked off their three day long People’s Filibuster in an effort to put pressure on the Senators who were considering voting for a bill that would cut $772 billion from Medicaid and $408 billion from insurance subsidies in order to give a tax break to the top 1 percent of American earners and major corporations.
Activists proceeded with the planned resistance actions, arguing that Senate leadership would most likely try very soon to push the bill to a vote. Chants of “Shame” could be heard outside the Capitol building Thursday as Senate Republicans boarded buses to head over to the White House for a lunch meeting with President Trump.
The nonpartisan CBO had released a report on Monday outlining how this bill would rip health insurance away from 22 million people by 2026, and claiming that the number of uninsured would continue to skyrocket after that. Following the CBO analysis, multiple GOP Senators either expressed concerns about voting for such a devastating bill or outright refused to do so, such as Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).
The Senate bill was crafted behind closed doors with absolutely no input from any Democratic Senators and almost no input from the majority of Republican Senators.According to a new poll, the Republican bill currently has only a 17% public approval rating, and there is a reluctance amongst Republican Senators to spend their July 4th recess meeting publicly with constituents, as only two have scheduled town halls during the break.
The almost a trillion dollars cut from Medicaid under this bill would force states to start rationing care and kicking people off of coverage. Medicaid pays for nearly half of all births in America, 70% of all nursing home patients–two-thirds of whom are women, and 43% of Medicaid funds go to care for people with disabilities.
The Senate’s bill would also eliminate protections for Essential Health Benefits, meaning insurance companies would no longer be forced to cover maternity care, prescription drugs or mental healthcare. This bill would also allow insurance companies to charge women higher prices for less coverage, as everything from pregnancy to domestic violence could once again be considered a pre-existing condition.
The bill also temporarily bans Planned Parenthood from receiving reimbursements for treating Medicaid patients, putting access to affordable care out of reach for millions of women who rely on the healthcare provider for cancer screenings, STI and pregnancy tests, contraceptive care and other critical reproductive health and family planning services.
Media Resources: New York Times 06/26/2017; Vox 06/22/2017, 06/27/2017; NPR 6/28/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 6/23/17