Coffee CAHC is a twice-weekly newsletter where we round up and comment on the latest health coverage policy developments both nationally and here in Maine. We hope you find these updates helpful!
115th Congress, 1st session
128th Maine Legislature, 1st session
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
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It’s game time.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he is delaying the Senate’s August recess by two weeks, so that the Senate can take care of a pile of business on its plate – including, primarily, the health care bill.
This news hit right around the same time as it was reported that a tweaked version (or versions?) of the Senate bill will be released tomorrow, to be voted on as soon as next Thursday, July 20th.
We don’t expect to see any substantive or wholesale changes to the underlying nightmare that is BCRA, though, so don’t hold your breath that anything is going to get better tomorrow. The simple fact remains that they are poking around the edges of a fundamentally rotten core. This bill cannot be saved or fixed.
Senator Ted Cruz’s amendment – which would allow insurers to sell barebones plans as long as they sell one “ACA-compliant” plan in a market – has been blasted by insurers as a surefire death knell for the entire individual market. No saves there.
We’re hearing there may be some more money poured in to a treatment fund to address the opioid crisis. One small problem: even with the increase, it would be a pathetic drop in the bucket compared to how much funding is actually needed to tackle this growing public health emergency.
And, by the way, let’s not forget that the mantra we keep hearing that “Obamacare is failing!”, thus necessitating some sort of action at any cost (even the cost of thousands of preventable deaths and millions of people having their health coverage ripped away) is, in and of itself, patently and demonstrably false. The Marketplaces are having a banner year; it’s the dismal interference and blind stumbling by the Congressional GOP that’s doing the damage right now.
Look: I know there’s other, genuinely scary stuff in the news. I’m worried about all of that, too. But we cannot, cannot, cannot let our guard down here. We need to keep calling, keep e-mailing, and keep pressuring our Senators to kill this bill dead once and for all. We cannot stop until they do: we let our guard down when this thing was still rattling around the House, and it got us where we are today. We need our leaders to commit to kill the bill so that we can have an actual, productive conversation about America’s health care system based in facts, not campaign lies.
So: if you haven’t yet today, please take a moment to call Senators King and Collins and ask them to stand strong against any version of this bill – today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or ever. We have taken the fight this far when everybody expected this to be signed, sealed, and delivered back in January: let’s keep it going a little longer!
Nothing to report, really. Appropriations is meeting today to consider bills on the Appropriations table (see last week’s Coffee CAHC for an explanation of what that is), and the Legislative Council will meet next Wednesday [edit: this has been corrected from an earlier, incorrect version] to decide the fate of the study bills, including the universal coverage study that we’ve been following. We’ll let you know what happens with that.
We’ll be at the insurer rate hearings that kick off next week with Anthem. That public hearing is on Tuesday, July 18th, at 9am at the Bureau of Insurance offices in Gardiner.
Would you like to know more?
Urban Institute has new data on who wins (the hyper-rich) and who loses (basically everybody else) under the Senate bill.
I loved this illustrated post on Medium, produced by a cartoonist who has lived with type I diabetes since her childhood, on what’s at stake for people with pre-existing conditions.
Until next time, friends, I remain,