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Cruel Health Care Bills Stopped – For Now

By Pablo Ros ·
Cruel Health Care Bills Stopped – For Now
AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders speaks at a rally on Capitol Hill Monday to protest bills aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act. A few hours later, the Senate’s bills were scuttled. (Photos by Naomi Brito)

Efforts by the congressional majority to take away health care from millions of Americans were scuttled again today – for the third time.

Congress could bring forth another proposal to alter or eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the future. AFSCME members and activists throughout the country will be ready to defeat it.

The latest attempt by Senate leaders to repeal the ACA, also known as Obamacare, began and was defeated in less than 24 hours. By proposing to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic-policy achievement without a viable plan to replace it, that plan would have left 32 million people without insurance, including 18 million in the first year.

“When you write legislation that would take health insurance away from tens of millions of people, when you try to gut Medicaid and eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and when you try to do this without public hearings or robust debate, it’s no surprise that you can’t get 50 senators on board,” AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders said in a statement today.

Two earlier attempts to repeal and replace the ACA also failed – once in the House and once in the Senate. The House, however, ended up passing its bill, which would’ve removed 23 million people from health insurance rolls.

The first Senate plan that failed late Monday would’ve been almost as bad as the House bill – 22 million people would’ve lost health insurance they got through the ACA. In response, Senate leaders announced plans to bring a straight ACA-repeal bill to a vote, but three senators from their own party put the brakes on that strategy today. 

Wendy Smith

The real fighters in this war and the true victors were the countless working families, including AFSCME members, who stood up for their freedoms. They made tens of thousands of calls to their elected representatives – AFSCME members alone made 15,000 of them – signed petitions and raised their voices in opposition to the heartless proposals.

At the “People’s Filibuster on Senate Health Care Legislation” on Monday, AFSCME members and retirees spoke up for their communities as the union played a key role in the Capitol Hill protest.

Among the participants was AFSCME member Wendy Smith, a community health nurse in Baltimore and president of Local 558 (AFSCME Maryland), who could’ve lost her job under plans to slash Medicaid.

Smith visits families throughout the city to give patients medication, teach them about leading healthy lifestyles and help them navigate the complicated health care system.

“When you take away Medicaid, you take away people like me,” she said. “And when I’m not in the picture, people fall through the cracks. It’s that simple. There’s often no one else out there to ensure that grandmother goes to get a checkup, that mother knows how best to feed her infant, to make sure that children get the care they need.”

AFSCME members will keep fighting, and defeating, any future attacks against working families and any attempts to take away our health care.

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