Weekly Action Items

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote of the week:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
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#ActionItem:
Denounce the final version of the GOP tax bill. All GOP House Reps except Donovan (NY), Faso (NY), Frelinghuysen (NJ), Issa (CA), Jones (NC), King (NY), Lance (NJ), LoBiondo (NJ), Rohrabacher (CA), Smith (NJ), Stefanik (NY), and Zeldin (NY) supported the bill.

Call:
Senator Schumer: 585.263.5866/202.224.6542
Senator Gillibrand: 585.263.6250/202.224.4451
Your rep: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find

Script: Hi, my name is [NAME], and I’m calling from [TOWN/ZIP].

[IF CALLING A DEMOCRAT OR GOP DEFECTOR: I’m calling to thank [REP NAME] for their hard work opposing the GOP tax plan. I ask they continue to fight for and to attempt to undo the harm this bill will soon cause.

[IF CALLING A SENATE GOP/MOST HOUSE GOP supporter: I’m calling to denounce [REP’S NAME] vote on the tax bill. It is a shameful handout to corporations and the wealthy on the backs of the middle class. I will remember this vote next November when I vote in the mid-term elections.

Thank you for your time answering the phones.
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#ActionItem:
Support the Alexander-Murray ACA Stablization Bill

CALL:
Senator Schumer: 585.263.5866/202.224.6542
Senator Gillibrand: 585.263.6250/202.224.4451
Your Rep:http://www.house.gov/representatives/find
Andrew M. Cuomo D-NY: 518.474.8390

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [TOWN/ZIP]

[IF CONGRESS] I’m calling to support the Alexander-Murray bill to stabilize the individual insurance market. Now that Republicans have repealed the ACA’s individual mandate, this bill is more critical than ever to keep exchange premium prices affordable.

[IF GOVERNOR] I’m calling to urge the governor to support the Alexander-Murray bill to ensure access to affordable insurance in [YOUR STATE]. We must protect our most vulnerable citizens, and the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill is the first step necessary to stabilize the individual healthcare market.

Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.
[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]
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#ActionItem:
Demand Congress Oppose A Mueller Firing

CALL: Senator Schumer: 585.263.5866/202.224.6542
Senator Gillibrand: 585.263.6250/202.224.4451
Your rep: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find

SCRIPT: Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [ZIP].

[IF CALLING SENATE] I’m calling to urge Senator _____ to support S.1735, the Special Counsel Independence Protection Act, and make a public statement that the firing of Special Counsel Mueller by Trump would be completely unacceptable. It’s the duty of Congress to serve as a check on Trump and prevent him from sending our democracy into a tailspin.

[IF CALLING HOUSE] I’m calling to urge Rep. ______ to make a public statement that the firing of Special Counsel Mueller by Trump would be completely unacceptable. It’s the duty of Congress to serve as a check on Trump and prevent him from sending our democracy into a tailspin.

Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]
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#ActionItem:
Advocate for our youngest, most vulnerable citizens’ health.

CALL: Senator Schumer: 585.263.5866/202.224.6542
Senator Gillibrand: 585.263.6250/202.224.4451

SCRIPT: Hi. I’m from [ZIP], calling to ask [name] to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It’s had 19 years of bipartisan support. The delay in authorizing its funding now puts the health of 9 million kids at risk. What is Sen. [name] doing to assure CHIP funding in New York?
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#ActionItem:
Oppose anti-equality lifetime judicial appointments.

CALL: Senator Schumer: 585.263.5866/202.224.6542
Senator Gillibrand: 585.263.6250/202.224.4451
OR Text RESIST to 50409 or message Resistbot on Facebook

SCRIPT: Dear Sen. [name], I’m a constituent writing to express my opposition to several lifetime judicial appointments: Damien Schiff and Matthew Kacsmaryk for their well-documented histories of opposing women’s health, equality for LGBTQ citizens, and marriage equality, and Charles Goodwin for his ABA rating of “not qualified,” which identifies him as biased and unfit to serve. Thank you for voting against these nominees to support basic civil rights.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2yTr0Xnhttp://bit.ly/2yTjg7P
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#ActionItem:
Fight The Rollback of Net Neutrality Protections

CALL: Senator Schumer: 585.263.5866/202.224.6542
Senator Gillibrand: 585.263.6250/202.224.4451
Your rep: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: 518.776.2000

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [TOWN/ZIP].

[IF CONGRESS]: I’m calling to express my strong disapproval of the FCC’s move to roll back the 2015 net neutrality protections. I ask that Senator Eric Schneiderman immediately work to use the Congressional Review Act to reverse this decision and preserve a free, open Internet that’s equally accessible to all.

[IF ATTORNEY GENERAL] I’m calling to thank the Attorney General for joining the lawsuit against the FCC for their rollback of 2015 net neutrality protections.
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#ActionItem:
Sign up for future texting campaigns to turn it blue!
Sign up here http://bit.ly/R2B-Alabama and then join Open Progress Texting Slack
#red2blue channel or go here: http://bit.ly/2BT3Z8N
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#ActionItem:
Download the Stance app, which makes calling elected officials easier and less stressful: http://www.takeastance.us/
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#ActionItem:
Check out our Actions & Causes page for ongoing ways to get involved as well as info on progressive organizations in the Rochester area: http://bit.ly/2rIktii

•To sign up for our weekly newsletter, event notifications, weekly action item blast, and general announcements, please visit: http://bit.ly/2rV9IdB

OPINION: Suggested fixes to the ACA By Hermann Vogelstein

© Kathy Libby | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the newest version of the Affordable Care Act repeal plan, called the “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” which, if passed, would reportedly leave millions without health coverage.

According to the New York Times, the bill would make deep cuts to Medicaid while allowing states to drop ACA-required benefits such as maternity care and mental health treatment. Additionally, the NYT reported that corporations and the richest families in the country would benefit by the nearly $1 trillion in tax cuts imposed by the new bill.

While many would agree that the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, millions have benefitted from having health insurance coverage. In a statement today, former President Barack Obama condemned the senate bill: “We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain—we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.” [Full statement: here]

Hermann Vogelstein, a member of Action Together Rochester’s Public Health Committee, weighed in on changes that could be made to the existing Affordable Care Act instead of an all out repeal:

1) Fix the so-called “family glitch.” Currently, family members of employees with coverage available from their employers are not allowed to receive subsidies on plans bought through the marketplace if the premium of the employer’s plan for the employee alone is deemed affordable, even if covering the entire family under the plan would be unaffordable. If the premium for the entire family under an employer-sponsored plan is unaffordable, an employee’s dependents should be eligible for subsidies if they buy coverage on the marketplace.

2) A public option should be added in every state. This would create more choices and competition, thus exerting downward pressure on premiums. It would also solve the problem of some states having only one insurer on their health insurance marketplace or none at all in some counties.

3) A way should be found to motivate all states to implement the Medicaid expansion. (Perhaps the number of years that the Federal government pays 100 percent of the cost could be extended).

4) It might also be advisable to consider increasing subsidies to those who are currently struggling to pay their premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Perhaps, the income limit for eligibility for the premium tax credit should be raised so as to provide relief from premium increases to those just above the cut off.

5) In those states that have not expanded Medicaid, the minimum income amount for eligibility for subsidies should be lowered or eliminated, so that those who need help the most don’t fall through the cracks.

6) Restore the funding that has been cut or never fully funded for certain elements of the ACA that were designed to stabilize the health insurance market. This includes reinsurance and the supplementation of the “risk corridor,” which funnels money from the government to insurance plans that have experienced losses because they ended up with an excessively high percentage of very sick patients in their insurance pool. This should obviate the need for insurers to increase premiums more than necessary in order to guard against being stuck with a losing pool of subscribers. It would also likely make them more willing to take the risk of participating in the individual market on the healthcare exchanges.

7) Extend funding for certain aspects of the ACA that are set to expire this year or next.

8) Reverse Trump’s executive orders relaxing enforcement of the penalty for failing to obtain insurance coverage, and consider increasing the penalty so as to reduce the temptation for healthy people to forgo health insurance.

9) Make care coordination a billable service for primary care physicians in order to help shift the emphasis in our health care system from expensive procedures and surgeries to preventive care.

10) Address the high cost of pharmaceuticals by increased regulation, by empowering the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to negotiate prices with drug companies, by allowing more medications to be imported, by creating transparency in drug pricing, by providing for easier drug comparisons, and by implementing value-based pricing of medications, taking into account their effectiveness.

11) Write into law the low-income cost-sharing subsidies for out-of-pocket costs (currently the subject of litigation), which allow those who qualify to have lower deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, and co-pays if they buy a Silver plan.

12) States could offer preferential treatment to companies bidding on lucrative Medicaid contracts if they commit to selling plans on the ACA marketplaces (Nevada is already doing this; NY is considering allowing only companies that offer plans on its marketplace to bid on Medicaid contracts). 

Hermann Vogelstein is a member of the ATR Public Health Committee.