Republicans Avoid Listening to Their Constituents’ Concerns Over Impact of GOP Health Care Repeal
July 5, 2017
Across the country newspapers are calling out the Senate’s dangerous health care bill for what it is – a giant tax cut for the rich that strips access to quality and affordable coverage away from 22 million Americans. It’s clear that Republican lawmakers have no way to defend or sell this incredibly unpopular bill, so it comes as no surprise that Republicans are doing everything they can to avoid their constituents, whom they’re supposed to represent in Washington.
CBS News: Amid health care debate, GOP senators cheered, jeered – and out of sight
“Senate Republicans across the country have been spending their recess from Washington in a variety of ways: facing their constituents in person or avoiding them amid the fight over health care.
“Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, who has been undecided about the current measure, faced angry constituents at a town hall on Friday, according to The Hill newspaper. Twenty minutes into the event, someone called on Cassidy to ‘vote against that hideous bill.’
“Some of their Senate colleagues have been under the radar. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, was not at a July 4 parade on Tuesday in her state, according to The New York Times and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, had no events in his state either. Both of them came out against the original bill.
“Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has scheduled nine town halls in his state during the recess, the Times' report said, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, will hold three town halls. Moran came out against the Senate bill after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, decided to postpone a vote on the legislation until after their week-long recess.”
Washington Post: At parades and protests, GOP lawmakers get earful about health care
“Few Republicans have responded like Collins, who let voters know where to find her. Last month, when Congress broke for the long holiday, just four of the Senate’s 52 Republicans — Collins, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — announced appearances at Fourth of July parades. Just three — Cruz, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — said they would hold public town hall meetings. All have criticized the bill; three ‘no’ votes would sink it.”
The New York Times: Senate Republicans Lay Low on the Fourth, or Face Single-Minded Pressure
“It is a tough summer for Senate Republicans, who are trying to combine a long-promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act with a replacement that has, in legislation drafted so far, been as popular as sunburn. Protesters have held sit-ins at Senate offices, phone lines have been jammed and editorial writers have blasted their states’ congressional delegations. Planes have even flown admonitory, if occasionally poorly conceived, banners over state capitals.
“Republican senators have had to decide whether public appearances would be fruitful or the crowds hostile. Many lawmakers seem to have given up on town hall-style meetings and parades. Others are still braving them, knowing they may get an earful on the health care bills.”
Cleveland.com: Parents of kids with pre-existing conditions worry about GOP health care bill: Ohio Matters
“Michael also is a little kid living with cystic fibrosis — a condition that affects the lungs and, for him, means aggressive treatment for coughs. Michael is healthy right now, but his condition could change anytime. Spitzer says she's concerned about how the proposed Republican health care bill in the U.S. Senate may affect her son's access to medication if he needs it in the future.
“Disagreement and concern over the bill isn't limited to Congress. Parents in the Columbus area with children diagnosed with pre-existing conditions, like cystic fibrosis or type 1 diabetes, say that allowing states to opt out of covering prescription drugs could leave their kids vulnerable.
“‘When your condition requires you to have that medication just to carry on, that feels like not really having coverage,’ Spitzer said. ‘So if they're saying, “well you can have health insurance, but it doesn't cover your medication,” then, it's like, what does it cover? Because that's what I need health insurance for.’”
Tribune Chronicle: Locals fear Medicaid cuts would hurt opioid fight
“Reductions in Medicaid spending at the state or federal level would negatively impact local efforts to curtail drug addiction at a time with a record number of deaths related to the epidemic in Trumbull County, local officials say.”
Marketplace: In Ohio’s opioid crisis, Medicaid cutbacks could be disastrous
“In the senate health care bill, there's at least one issue that comes up again and again: Medicaid spending, and more specifically, how much to cut it. Medicaid is a pretty big deal in Ohio, which is aRepublican-controlled state. Ohio expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, an effort that was championed by Gov. John Kasich, who's also a Republican. Under this expansion, over 700,000 people were able to enroll in Medicaid. There's another thing that makes the Medicaid debate so important in Ohio: the opioid epidemic. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Ohio is one of the hardest-hit states.”
The Times Free Press: Poll: 60 percent of Tennesseans oppose GOP plans to cut Medicaid
“Six out of 10 Tennessee voters said in a recent survey they oppose cutting federal money for the Medicaid program that covers an estimated 1.5 million poor mothers, children and disabled and elderly Tennesseans.
“Sponsored by the American Medical Association, the June 15-19 poll of 500 registered Tennessee voters was among surveys conducted in seven states by the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.”
WWL News: Paging Dr. Cassidy: Patients hope La. senator saves their Medicaid
“For all of her 33 years, Ashley Volion has refused to back down.
“Spastic cerebral palsy took away her ability to walk, clipped her speech and withered her hands. But, somehow, Volion controlled the spasms and refined her speech patterns, got a master’s degree in sociology, moved into her own apartment, got a job as a nonprofit policy analyst and even got the University of Illinois-Chicago to let her pursue a PhD in Disability Studies online, from New Orleans.
“But now, Volion is worried that all her hard-fought gains will be wiped away by proposed cuts to Medicaid as Congress tries, yet again, to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“‘I’m super worried, because the NOW Waiver and the services that I get through Medicaid allow me to live and work out in the community,’ she said. ‘The flip side of that would be I would be stuck in a nursing home, not being able to contribute to society.’”
KTVA: Three-time cancer survivor asks Senators to vote ‘no’ on proposed health care plan
“This Fourth of July, Alaska’s senators are home, while Congress is on recess — but their work on a proposed health care plan is far from over.
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell initially wanted a vote on their attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act before the holiday recess, but it became clear that wouldn’t happen. The delay gives Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan more time to look over the proposed bill and get answers — something both of them say they need before they make a decision on how they’ll vote.
“Back at home, Steve Taylor says it’s important now, more than ever, for Alaskans to let them know how they feel about the bill. Taylor is an Alaskan living in Anchorage, who has battled cancer three times.
“Taylor now relies on thousands of dollars of medication every month, to keep remaining tumors on his pancreas at bay and credits his life to the Affordable Care Act — which removed previous lifetime coverage caps. ‘I’ve blown past those lifetime caps at this point,’ said Taylor. He fears those caps could come back if the Senate’s current health care proposal goes through. ‘It’s absolutely the wrong bill and they need to go back and they need to start over,’ Taylor said.”
Alaska Dispatch News: State predicts major cuts to Medicaid under proposed Senate bill
“In an analysis of the legislation as proposed, research group Manatt Health found, for the state Department of Health and Social Services, that the result would be a loss of 28 percent of Alaska's federal Medicaid funding under the current law. The roughly 34,000 Alaska adults who have gained coverage under Medicaid expansion would lose coverage beginning in 2020, the report estimates. And from fiscal year 2020 through 2026, Alaska would lose $3.1 billion in federal funding for Medicaid, the report said.”
AZ Central: Aetna bails on Arizona's individual insurance market as GOP Senate health bill stalls
“Insurance giant Aetna has notified customers this month that it will exit Arizona's individual health-insurance market in 2018, citing financial risk and an uncertain outlook. People who purchased health insurance directly from Aetna can keep their plans through the end of this year but will need to search for other options in 2018.
“A vote on the U.S. Senate's proposed replacement has been delayed until after the Fourth of July break as GOP leaders seek to shore up the 50 votes needs to pass the sweeping legislation. A USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll found just 12 percent of Americans support the bill.
“Arizona business and health leaders warned that the bill would trigger deep cuts to the health-care industry that could ripple through the economy. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate health bill would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million by 2026.”
Las Vegas Sun: Editorial: On health care, Heller should stand up for Nevadans, not bow to Trump
“Heller’s job is to represent Nevadans, and they’re counting on him to stand up to bullies and protect them.
“The measure would leave 22 million Americans without health care and would increase premiums for older people, according to the Congressional Budget Office, meaning it was only marginally less awful than the House version.”
Omaha World-Herald: Midlanders have lots of opinions on health care, but lawmakers have few public events this holiday break to hear them
“Omahan Lisa Schwetschenau, 48, developed three lesions in the months it took for doctors to diagnose her with MS three years ago
“She relies on medication that costs $75,000 a year to slow the progression of the disease, for which there is no cure, and she’s worried about the future of federal regulations that require health insurers to provide prescription drug coverage with no annual caps.
“‘When you’re on $75,000-a-year medication, you get to a cap pretty quick,’ she said.
“The ongoing health care debate has turned Schwetschenau into an activist. She was in Washington, D.C., last week to protest Republican proposals to relax those insurance regulations, taking part in a rally at the Capitol.
“All five GOP House members representing Nebraska and western Iowa voted in favor of theRepublican bill approved by that chamber earlier this year.”
Milwaukee Independent: Local boy petitions Senator Ron Johnson for lifesaving health care
“Among those supporters delivering the petition was a 9-year-old boy named Jack, who Myers met on a motorcycle trip through Wisconsin in early June. Jack suffers from a rare genetic disease, and his situation highlights the dangers proposed by the pending bill, which would end his medical treatments. ‘I was born with this pre-existing condition that makes me have no antibodies. It’s called Bruton’s X-Linked Agammaglobulinemia, or XLA,’ said Jack. When asked what would happen if he lost his health care, he added, ‘Basically, I dіе.’”
“Passage of the Ryan-Trump Health Care Plan would return an insurance ceiling to the old lifetime cap amount. Jack would reach that limit in around 3 years. His treatments today cost $5,000 a month, but when 9-year-old Jack reaches adulthood they are expected to be $32,000. Without a guarantee that insurance companies will cover his pre-existing condition, something he was born with, Jack would be uninsurable by the time he hits puberty. ‘Jack shouldn’t have to worry about getting older because in the richest county in the world, health care for kids like Jack should be a right, not a privilege,’ added Myers.”
La Crosse Tribune: Mayo's Health Tradition insurer pulls two plans amid health care policy uncertainty
“Health Tradition Health Plan will quit offering individual policies and pull the plug on another program next year.
“The policies apparently are casualties in the stalled Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the GOP has tried to repeal or significantly revise more than 60 times since it was enacted almost eight years ago.
“Health Tradition, Mayo Clinic Health System’s insurance plan, will halt individual coverage Dec. 31and will not write small employer group health plans under the ACA’s Small Business Health Options Program next year, according to a news release.”
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Editorial: Delaying the Senate’s health care bill is a good thing
“The Senate won’t be voting on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by July 4. And that’s a good thing. The bill that was moving forward had too many flaws, didn’t fix anything in the ACA and didn’t meet many of President Donald Trump’s promises for health care reform. And it was put together behind closed doors with too little discussion and virtually no open and public debate.
“The Senate’s bill, like the House’s version, would hurt tens of millions of Americans. There is no need to do this. The current system can be fixed if Republicans can stop playing politics and work with moderate Democrats to provide the needed changes.”
IndyStar: Indiana GOP asked Facebook for Obamacare horror stories. The responses were surprising.
“The Indiana Republican Party posed a question to Facebook on Monday: ‘What's your Obamacare horror story? Let us know.’
“The responses were unexpected.
“‘My sister finally has access to affordable quality care and treatment for her diabetes.’
“‘My father's small business was able to insure its employees for the first time ever. #thanksObama’
“‘The only horror in the story is that Republicans might take it away.’”
Newsmax: Senate Republicans have health care hover over Fourth of July Celebrations
“In Shell Rock, Iowa, Connie Christiansen stood on the lawn of her family's house after watching a parade of Boy Scouts, tractors, ATVs and musicians — but no United States senators.
“‘I think they've got their priorities mixed up,’ she said of her senators, adding that if she saw Grassley, she'd tell him to retire.”
Kansas City Public Radio: Health Bill Could Reduce Medicaid Services For Children With Disabilities In Kansas Schools
“On any given school day at Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, students with disabilities receive an array of medical and support services, from physical therapy to help from nurses.
“The services are meant to ensure access to education for all children, said Michelle Colvin, director of special education for the district.
“‘All means all,’ Colvin said. ‘It benefits us to include everyone in our education system.’”
“Medicaid helps pay for such services — providing around $46 million for schools statewide, according to data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.”
Kansas City Star: Here’s how Medicaid changes in GOP health bills might affect Kansas and Missouri
“Both states already have fairly restrictive Medicaid programs that mostly serve children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities. Both rank in the bottom half of states in overall population health, meaning they have sicker, more costly residents to cover. And both rank in the bottom half of states in percentage of physicians that take new Medicaid patients, meaning their reimbursement rates already aren’t enticing to doctors.”
Minnesota Public Radio: Voters press representatives on health care during July 4 parades
“Emmer expects there will be a vote on the Senate health care bill before the August recess. While the nonpartisan CBO said the bill would increase the number of uninsured people by 22 million, Emmer said the bill would not cut off funds to seniors, the working poor and people with disabilities.
“Republican Jason Lewis marched in the Eagan parade, and DFLer Keith Ellison walked the Edina parade route.
“Edina residents were also expecting to see Republican Erik Paulsen, but parade organizers say Paulsen was unable to attend because of a family reunion.
“Instead, protesters upset about Paulsen's vote on health care took his place in the parade.”
Minnesota Public Radio: Minn. agency sounds alarm over health law rewrite
“The agency that manages Minnesota’s insurance programs for the elderly, disabled and poor said Wednesday that a proposed rewrite of a federal health care law would put coverage for many at risk and place a ‘significant strain’ on the state budget.
“The Minnesota Department of Human Services sent a letter to the state’s congressional delegation with an analysis of the potential impact of a plan now before the U.S. Senate. It’s similar to a rundown the agency released in response to a version adopted by the U.S. House in early May.
“The letter signed by Commissioner Emily Piper says Minnesota stands to lose $2 billion in anticipated federal money over the first 18 months due to Medicaid funding revisions and changes to eligibility.”
Yakima Herald: What would it mean for the Yakima Valley if Obamacare is repealed and replaced?
“Local and state health care leaders are alarmed by the Senate’s health care proposal, particularly the impact it would have on rural communities like the Yakima Valley.
“Most troubling is the $834 billion cut facing Medicaid in the Senate’s health bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
“‘Overall, it’s not a good policy. … Right now, it’s a lot of takeaways and not so much on the give-back,’ said John Gallagher, CEO of Sunnyside Community Hospital and Regional Health. ‘When it comes to the nitty gritty — we took care of patients beforehand; we’ll take care of patients after — but it will be a challenge for the families involved.’
“In rural areas of Washington state, 53 percent of children and 21 percent of adults are covered by Medicaid, according to the Washington State Hospital Association. Both figures have increased since the Affordable Care Act was enacted and the state expanded Medicaid, giving new coverage to roughly 600,000 low-income adults and families.”