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Issue #1783      June 28, 2017

Protests for healthcare

Senate Republicans last week released their secret plan to kick millions off of health insurance and transfer hundreds of millions of dollars that now go to healthcare for working people and the poor into the pockets of the rich.

The massive tax cut for the wealthy, disguised as a healthcare plan, hues closely to and in some respects is even worse than the plan passed by the House in May.

Determined to stop what they see as an unconscionable attack on the healthcare of millions of Americans, Democratic lawmakers, labour, civil rights, community, and healthcare groups, backed up by doctors, nurses and countless others, are marching and mobilising across the country. The Republican Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, hopes to railroad the bill through the Senate before the Fourth of July.

Senate rules requiring that the Congressional Budget Office score the bill before a Senate vote are the only thing that forced McConnell to allow the secret stealth attack on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) out of the closet before a vote. Republicans are itching to tell their constituents that they have killed Obamacare, regardless of the severe harm that will be done to millions of Americans.

Polls indicate that support for the Republican bill that passed the House in May is less than 20 percent among the American public, another reason Republican lawmakers have proceeded in secret in the Senate.

The Senate plan rolls back subsidies for people who purchase insurance on the ACA exchanges and drastically slashes Medicaid to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. In a totally transparent and what Senator Bernie Sanders described “obscene” way those cuts in Medicaid are funnelled, under the Senate plan, into tax cuts for the wealthy.

Union peak body the AFL-CIO, in recent statements on its website, has warned that many people are unaware of what Medicaid cuts could mean. Medicaid pays for long term care in nursing homes, for example, something Medicare does not cover. Millions of working families could be left with horrible choices if nursing home patients are thrown onto the streets.

One half of all births in the United States are paid for by Medicaid as is health care for millions of children. Medicaid money also is used under the Affordable Care Act to insure millions of poor people whose income is too to low afford paying for the price of insurance listed on exchanges.

The Senate bill ends federal assistance to Planned Parenthood. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood federation of America, said that one in five women get essential healthcare from Planned Parenthood centres.

“If this is the Senate’s idea of a bill with heart, then the women of America should have fear struck in theirs,” she said.

Many healthcare advocates are scoffing at President Trump’s recent characterisation of the House bill, passage of which he celebrated in May, as “mean.” Advocates say the Senate bill is, in some respects, even meaner. The Bill the House passed in May would kick 23 million off health insurance but the bill now passed by the Senate would kick off many millions too. In the meantime, Obamacare remains, for now, the law of the land.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, urged everyone to contact their members of Congress and the Senate. “If they are in the Senate,” he said, “call them and tell them to vote against the bill when it arrives in their chamber for a vote or face an uphill battle when they run for re-election.”

People’s World

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