NO LONGER REPEALING - SIMPLY HAND IT TO STATES
With the failure back at the end of July to do a "skinny repeal," the latest GOP plan is to drain funds out of the ACA and to count on conservative states to kill it for them. Just this week, The US Senate Republicans introduced the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill, named for co-sponsors Graham, Bill Cassidy, R-La., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., which would turn the billions of dollars spent on the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, tax credits and subsidies into grants managed by each state.
While it doesn't overturn the current law, it instead leaves it to each state to define its own rules for health plans that may be sold to residents and how consumers should be helped to afford that coverage.This does not bode well for North Carolina, which is currently run by a super-majority GOP in the NC General Assembly.
What's more, It’s unclear if the CBO would even have time to score the bill before the end of the month, when the fast-track procedural powers that the GOP can use to bypass the threat of a Democratic filibuster expires. So the GOP is in a hurry and they're desperate.
MAKING THE WINDOW SMALLER
The other ways that the GOP is trying to kill the ACA are more subtle. One is by shortening the sign-up period by half,...from 3 months to only 45 days. This is bad, beyond the simple fact that some people will miss the sign-up period because it's so short,....but also because those that DO sign up will likely be those that are super-motivated by illness and pre-existing conditions. The pool of enrollees will be smaller and more expensive to maintain. Premiums will likely rise.
Healthcare for all works because everyone is participating. When people are excluded the economy of scale weakens. The GOP is hoping to turn the PR tide against the ACA by saying, "Look how the program is struggling and it's expensive!" Don't fall for it. It's sabotage.
SLASHING THE MARKETING
Another way they're sabotaging the ACA is by draining the advertising funds out of the budget. The Dept of Health and Human Services announced last week it would cut the Obamacare sign-up budget by 72 percent. Advertising funding will fall from $100 million to $10 million for the 2018 enrollment season. In-person outreach dollars will decline from $62.5 million to $36 million.
STARVING COMMUNITY OUTREACH
The Affordable Care Act requires BY LAW that the federal government runs a “navigator program.” This is done through grants to local healthcare non-profits to help consumers in communities to understand the law and help navigate the choices. The Trump administration is cutting those grants by 41%. Keep in mind that 77% of people who enrolled in person need help understanding plan choices, and 31% lack internet service. These Navigators are crucial in areas like ours.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
House and Senate Republicans took their best shots at repeal. Their efforts failed because the ACA has succeeded in providing access to health care for millions more Americans. People are better off with Obamacare than without it. Yes, it can be improved, but battering it and draining it of its good qualities will not make anything better happen. Republicans do not want you to have a right to healthcare pure and simple. They aren't planning on bringing you anything "better." They want the free market to rule, and that means a lot of people will be left out of healthcare.
So as Democrats, as Americans, and as people who care about the lives of others, we need to do a few things starting right away:
1) Call Senators Burr and Tillis and demand that they vote against the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill. Demand the right to see CBO scores. Show how it will affect North Carolinians. If nothing else, we must make it hard on them, and drag it out so that their "fast track" expires the end of this month.
2) Let EVERYONE know the enrollment period time frame of the ACA. 2018 Open Enrollment period runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017.
3) Learn all we can about the ACA enrollment so that we can help our friends and neighbors enroll. Public forums with information disseminated to pick up the slack of the starved navigator programs. We're all int he public service business now and need to serve our fellow man.
VOX 9/5/2017 "This is what Obamacare sabotage looks like"
POLITICO 8/31/17 "Trump Administration Slashes Obamacare Outreach"
POLITICO 9/13/17 "Graham, Cassidy unveil last-ditch Obamacare repeal bill"
WASHINGTON POST 9/13/17 "GOP Tries One More Time to Undo ACA with Bill Offering Huge Block Grants To States"