Senate Voted to Proceed: Now What?

Earlier today, the Senate voted 51-50 to proceed with debate over the health care bill. With only 2 opposing Republican votes, just 1 shy of what was needed, plus a tie-breaking vote from VP Pence, the motion succeeded. We now move toward serious Medicaid cuts that can’t be reversed once set into motion, and it will take all of us standing together to prevent it.

Watch how each Senator voted.

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Data shows that any bill, amendment, or revision proposed so far will be detrimental to Medicaid recipients. We (MSL) oppose the per capita caps or block grants that have been proposed because they will shift great stress to state budgets and reduce the ability to give recipients the coverage they need. We oppose ending expansion because it will result in millions losing coverage. In addition, the aforementioned bills remove essential health benefits and pre-existing condition protections, which would be detrimental to all Americans, making coverage unaffordable if not unattainable for many.

As part of the AACF statement on how this vote will affect Arkansas, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families said: “Today’s vote shows that we have more work to do. Despite an outcry from health care professionals, business owners, families, and even governors, many Senators have decided to move forward with legislation that will destabilize the entire health care system. Too much is at risk to continue down the current path. Children with special needs, elderly enrollees, and people with chronic conditions who rely on Medicaid will lose coverage. Health care for families that were able to purchase affordable coverage, many for the first time, is also at risk.

The people have spoken—any proposal that falls short of guaranteeing everyone affordable, comprehensive coverage, is unacceptable. Now, it’s time for Congress to listen. We ask that Senator Cotton and Senator Boozman commit to voting no on any bill that endangers the health of tens of thousands of Arkansans. Anything less is breaking their promise to all of us.”

Now that we understand the ramifications haven’t changed, here’s what will happen next:

  1. The Senate will debate for 20 hours. By rules, to be fair, Republicans and Democrats get equal time of 10 hours each.
  2. The Senate will probably vote a bunch of times on amendments and such.
  3. Then the Senate will vote on a finalized bill and send it to the House.
  4. The House will vote, and if it passes, they’ll send it to President Trump.

See a flow chart.

As you can see, if you oppose Medicaid cuts, you can’t give up. Not a single Democrat voted to proceed, and we only need a few Republicans to oppose to keep any bill from moving forward. We were only one opposing vote short. Take a breath, renew your determination, and communicate in any way you possibly can!

Contact your Senator!

Email your Senators’ legislative aids!

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Stand strong!

Take Action: Graphic to Share

The news changes like the wind. Are they voting or aren’t they? Repeal and replace or repeal without replace? No matter what’s happening with them, we need to continue to make our needs and wants abundantly clear.

Many are saying that they can’t get through to Senators via phone calls. Don’t stop calling because they are counting the calls. 866-426-2631

However, social media is a great way to publicly contact your Senators, especially since they won’t post their direct email addresses.

Share this graphic with them and tag them in your posts. Use hash tags like #BCRA or #ProtectOurCare to help others see your posts!

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Medicaid Saves Lila

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This is my sweet girl, Lila. She’s active and intelligent. She loves to swing, eat blackberries, and paint. Don’t you dare turn your back on her because she’s mischievous too! She loves her friends, family, and kitty-cats. She is absolutely the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done with my life, and she just so happens to have Down Syndrome.

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She might smile a lot, but her life hasn’t been easy. Born almost a month early due to multiple complications, Lila spent some time in the NICU. She’s overcome multiple illnesses and surgeries, including open heart surgery soon after her first birthday and many others since. In fact, we have received 2 new diagnoses this year alone, and she’ll have at least one surgery.

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My husband and I are proud Arkansans. We’re educated, hard-working, tax-paying citizens. At the time of Lila’s birth, we lived in another state. Despite the fact that we both had good jobs and primary insurance coverage, we struggled to provide for her needs. When we moved back to Arkansas, Lila was significantly delayed in many areas.

IMG_6519 Our friends told us about TEFRA, a type of Medicaid funding that provides for disabled children and that requires the family to pay a premium. Our primary insurance pays first for all that it will cover, and Medicaid makes sure that Lila doesn’t go without the rest. We gladly pay a monthly fee for this essential assistance!

Lila now receives medical treatments that she needs from specialists and Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapy. She attends a school where she is loved and accepted, and they practice important skills in the classroom to prepare her for mainstream Kindergarten. Lila is constantly learning the necessary skills to be independent: speaking new words, learning to feed herself, to dress herself, and to climb stairs. One of my favorite moments was the first time I ever heard her say, “Ma Ma.” Can you imagine waiting 4 years to hear that?

IMG_2776We never expected to need Medicaid. Even though we’d paid taxes for years for Medicaid, we didn’t know that a person’s life can change drastically in a moment – a car accident, a stroke, a job loss, a cancer diagnosis, a chromosomal difference – to cause them to need Medicaid. We thought that if we worked hard enough, we could take care of ourselves and Lila. But no matter how hard we work or what we give up, we just can’t afford to provide for all of Lila’s needs. Now, because of Medicaid, Lila is thriving, and we’re not being crushed under the weight of Lila’s ever-growing medical debt. We have hope that she will continue to develop and someday be a valued, contributing member of society. We are incredibly thankful for Medicaid.

We tell everyone we can how essential Medicaid is! Lila has visited the Capitol and state lawmakers multiple times to represent herself and friends like her. Since she can’t speak much yet, my husband and I tell them how much Medicaid is literally saving lives. I can’t wait for the day that Lila will tell them herself. She brings a beauty and light to this dark world, and we will never stop fighting for her!

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Revised Senate health care bill: Where are we now?

A revision of the BCRA Senate Health Care   bill has been released, but what’s different? We have the one-stop-shop for understanding the bill for yourself.

Some reports say that they want to vote as early as Tuesday. Get to reading and then get to calling!

Every call matters. Here’s the number for Senators across the nation: 866-426-2631

Find your states US Representative & contact his/her office

Find your state’s US Senator & contact his/her office

Read the new revised bill to make sure you discover everything for yourself.
Check out these resources to guide you:
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What was the original bill?

Full text of the original bill. Click on the image below, and  use the resources above to help you.
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How the BCRA will affect you, even if you don’t receive Medicaid

The topic of health care is not only in some ways oppressive on our minds but also overwhelming these days. Months ago, the House wrote the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in an effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and they passed it on to the Senate. Then, the Senate must have found fault with the AHCA because they wrote their own version of the bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). If the Senate passes their bill, it will have to go to the House for their approval. We have seen months (years!) of coverage on the subject of health care, and it’s downright confusing at this point.

Let’s try to clarify some of the confusion by pulling a few articles together to show what will change with the Senate health care bill, the BCRA. (The AHCA doesn’t matter if the House approves the BCRA.) This research will show that nearly everyone who isn’t extremely wealthy will be affected negatively by the bill as it stands proposed today. If you care about, or are affected by, any of the following categories, you can expect changes to come to you and your family if this bill were to pass.

1. Medicaid Funding

“[T]he Senate bill would radically restructure all parts of Medicaid—not just the expansion provided under the Affordable Care Act.” 1

“The cumulative impact: a $772 billion spending cut over 10 years, versus current law, and 15 million fewer people enrolled in Medicaid in 2026.” 2

2. Essential Health Benefits

“But another change might have more far-reaching effects: eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s ‘essential health benefits,’ or EHBs. That shift could affect almost everybody, including the 156 million Americans who receive health coverage through their employers.” 5

Here’s a rundown of what they are: 4, 5, 6

  • Outpatient care — scheduled doctor visits, (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)
  • Emergency room trips — ER visits and ambulance trips.
  • In-hospital care — All care people get as hospital patients, such as surgery.
  • Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care — before and after birth
  • Mental health and substance abuse disorder services — (this includes counseling and psychotherapy)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative services and habilitative services – help recovering from an injury or illness, but also treatment (therapy) for kids with autism or cerebral palsy.
  • Lab tests
  • Preventive services — vaccines, cancer screenings, etc.
  • Pediatric services — including dental and vision care for children.

3. Pre-existing Conditions Protections

“The BCRA retains the popular ACA provision that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be charged more for insurance because of their health status. However, weakened essential health benefits would hurt people with pre-existing conditions.” 1

“The Senate bill would retain some limits. It wouldn’t, for example, allow states to waive the prohibition on discriminating on the basis of preexisting conditions. But it would allow states to remove caps on out-of-pocket spending for exchange plans.” 3

4. Subsidies & Taxes

“One major difference is that the Senate bill provides subsides only up to 350% of the federal poverty level starting in 2020; the ACA currently provides subsidies up to 400%. In other words, while individuals earning up to $47,550 qualify for help under the ACA, only those earning up to $41,580 would qualify under the Senate plan. This means far fewer people will qualify for aid.” 1

Sources:

1 4 Things to Know About the Senate’s Health Care Bill

4 ways you probably didn’t know the Republican bill changes Medicaid

3  Crazy Waivers

4 What Are ‘Essential Benefits’ in GOP Health Care Bill Debate?

5 The 10 ‘essential’ benefits that could be eliminated under the GOP health care plan

6 What Marketplace health insurance plans cover

Facts & Faces of Medicaid

Share the facts and faces of Arkansas Medicaid.

Show people who Medicaid cuts would hurt. Don’t give up. Keep calling and sharing.

Data source is credited. We have gathered several of KFF’s posts here to save you some time.

ASAN Advocacy Training Resource

With the looming Medicaid cuts, people want to learn how to get involved and fast! This training resource is from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. You may be advocating for a different condition, but the information they’ve gathered here is very valuable for everyone.

Their page gives a whole list of information and strategies to effectively take action when advocating for yourself or a loved one.

Their page will give you:

  • A Self-Advocate’s Guide to Getting Through to your Elected Officials
  • Fact Sheet: How to Call Your Elected Officials
  • Fact Sheet: In-Person Meetings with Elected Officials
  • Fact Sheet: Sending Elected Officials Emails, Letters, and Faxes

Get to work!

Senate Healthcare Bill Released

Updated: 7/9/17 4:08 pm

By now, you’ve probably seen more than 10 different news stories about the Senate healthcare bill. Maybe 10 per day! But what’s the truth? Will it really cut Medicaid? Will it really affect everyone? Well, the only way for you to know is for you to read it yourself. And we can help you.

You need to read, but also, don’t stop responding. The Senate wants to vote on this bill as soon as they can come to an agreement. They’re having many negotiations behind closed doors. Let your voice be heard through those doors! These are the Arkansas Senators to contact:
Sen. John Boozman (202) 224-4843
Sen. Tom Cotton (202) 224-2353

If you’re not from Arkansas, this info pertains to you as well. Every call matters. Here’s the number for Senators across the nation:  866-426-2631

Find your states US Representative & contact his/her office

Find your state’s US Senator & contact his/her office

Contact information for all of AR Congressmen.

What’s truly in the bill?

Make sure to read the bill to form your own educated opinions. Click on the image below to access the full text, and  use the resources above to help you.
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