#OurLivesOnTheLine Action 7.29.17

Thank you to EVERYONE who answered our call to send selfies and/or photos of loved ones. We gathered even more photos to illustrate that millions of people will be hurt if the Senate votes to decimate our health care.

We also want to thank everyone who showed up, cheered, chanted and stood together against those who would roll back important health care gains in this country.

Thank you to the Protect Our Care CT Coalition for organizing the Hartford event and joining with Our Lives on the Line actions across the country!

Yesterday’s blog highlighted a busy week in D.C. , including the failed “skinny” repeal bill.

We can all take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief – but we can’t stop the fight!

Here’s a video from Saturday’s action:

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What happened in DC last week…and what now?

By Rosana Garcia

July29HCVoteFailLast Friday, in the wee hours of the morning

The “skinny” repeal bill brought to the Senate floor very early Friday morning failed, when all 48 Democratic Senators, and 3 Republican Senators (Senators Collins, Murkowski and McCain) voted “No.”  Senators Collins and Murkowski’s “No” votes were expected – but Senator McCain’s thumbs down was the final, and surprising, nail in the coffin.

So what does the “No” vote mean?

As we mentioned last week, the failure of “skinny” repeal is certainly a victory for protecting our health care gains, but there are still threats ahead, and a lot of work to improve health care in the state, and in this country.

What are the upcoming threats?

1. Republicans could still push for some sort of action on health care. See: It’s not impossible: Four ways Republicans could still take action on Obamacare (Washington Post, Amber Phillips)

2. The Trump Administration, which includes the Department of Health and Human Services, could sabotage the Affordable Care Act in a few different ways.

The threat you may have heard of the most in the past few days are around cost sharing reduction payments.  These are payments the Administration makes to insurers to help lower-income people afford their health care, by reducing out-of-pocket costs and lowering deductibles.  Up until now, they have been paid on a month to month basis.  The President has threatened, though, to withhold payments after the health care bill’s failure last Friday.  It is unclear how that may shake out this week.

Read more here about how the Administration can sabotage the ACA: Obamacare 101: Trump threatens to let the Affordable Care Act fail. Can he? (LA Times, David Lauter & Noam Levey).

3. A little further down the road (though quickly approaching) Congress will need to take action to re-authorize CHIP – Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has often been seen as policy that both parties agree on. CHIP expires in September, and ACA repeal, or other health care changes, could get caught up in CHIP re-authorization.

4. The House Republicans released their 2018 budget which includes cuts to Medicaid and Medicare. This is just another way to radically change two critical health care programs that helps millions.

For more, you can check out Families USA’s ACA Threat Tracker!

Our Lives Still on the Line

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Our Lives on the Line event, Saturday, July 29, 2017, Hartford

We had an Our Lives on the Line event in Hartford on Saturday, we heard from many speakers, including Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (we’ll be sharing more about that amazing event soon – and a big THANK YOU to all who helped, showed up, chanted and cheered!).

While celebration of the defeat of “skinny” repeal was in the air, we also heard about the need to continue to work together, remain vigilant, and ensure health care is accessible and affordable for all of us.  The fight isn’t over!

You can:

  • Stay up to date with news & action alerts by signing up at Protect Our Care CT
  • Make sure you’re following Universal Health Care Foundation of CT on Facebook, Twitter & Instagramwe are working hard to make sure you know the latest news and how to be involved!
  • Share your health care story with us!  Email us at info@universalhealthct.org – we want to know about how the ACA has helped you, struggles affording care and prescription drugs, and any other health care story you or someone you know would like to share.
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YOU did it again! Join us tomorrow (Sat, 7/29)!

20065887_1498415556887550_3657923959812259840_n(1)SUCCESS!
What a relief!  Overnight, the “skinny” repeal vote failed, when all Democratic Senators and Republican Senators Collins, Murkowski and McCain voted “no” on this damaging bill.

THANK YOU to all of you who took action – sharing your stories, speaking up against this terrible bill, sharing on social media, participating in demonstrations and sending your selfies for our Lives on the Line events!

CELEBRATE!
Join us TOMORROW for one more Lives on the Line event!  There will be events across the country — come to show that Connecticut stands with everyone across the nation!

Come to celebrate and hear what’s ahead!

CT LIVES ON THE LINE EVENT
SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2017
10:30AM
NORTH SIDE of the STATE CAPITOL, HARTFORD
(210 Capitol Ave)

BREAKING: Senators Murphy & Blumenthal will be joining us!

NOTE: The State Capitol will be closed.  There will be no public access to the building.

Click here for the Facebook Event Page

THE FIGHT CONTINUES!

You all deserve a moment of celebration before we continue in the fight to make health care better for everyone!  As always, we will keep you in the loop.  THANK YOU for all you do!

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Join the July 29 Lives on the Line Health Care Action in Hartford

 

By Lynne Ide

call2action

Yet again, health care tops the news in Washington, D.C.  The U.S. Senate is poised to move forward and debate some version of a health care bill today and tomorrow – the exact details of which are unknown, despite much speculation.  Read more here.

 

Whatever happens in D.C. this week, we need you to stand with us for Lives on the Line – a national day of action this Saturday, July 29 in Hartford.

Please join us at the State Capitol building at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday.

And – please send us photos to fill the Lives on the Line clothesline.

More details below:

July 29 Flyer.jpg

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Activism Matters!

Panorama in Philly

We did it!  YOU did it! The town halls and phone calls, the die-ins and sit-ins, the emails and voicemails, sharing your stories, the letters to the editor, the marches, the rallies – they mattered!  Demonstrating that our lives are on the line worked!

With majorities in both houses of Congress and the presidency, the Republicans couldn’t muster the votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The Better Care Reconciliation Act appears to be dead.

On Friday it went on life support when Senator John McCain had emergency brain surgery.  With two firm no votes on the record from Senators Collins and Paul, the bill could not move forward until Senator McCain was well enough to return to work.

Then the plug was pulled on Monday night when Senators Lee and Moran said they would vote no.

Repeal and Delay is also dead.  It died earlier this year, when enough Republicans said they would not repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without replacing it simultaneously.  It came back to life for a few brief hours last night but was quickly killed off today when three women senators, Collins, Capito and Murkowski, all issued statements stating they would vote no.

Grassroots Activism Made the Difference

Blumenthal The CapeAs the voice of activists against repeal became louder, the share of people opposed to repeal and replacement plans grew.  Support for the ACA, also grew, with a majority of Americans now supporting the law, rather than opposing it.  More people noticed that, rather than failing, and admittedly far from perfect, the ACA was actually working.

Meanwhile, grassroots supporters for repeal were strangely quiet.  The enthusiasm gap was noticeable.

So, can we break out the champagne, celebrate?  Absolutely.

Can we take the rest of the summer off?  Absolutely NOT.

While it appears we may have won this latest battle, until we know for sure that Majority Leader McConnell is truly done, we will have to remain vigilant.

And the job to defend the ACA, Medicaid, Medicare, women’s reproductive health is far from over.

Resist and Persist

Here are just a few of the upcoming threats to health care:

  • Slow motion repeal and sabotage:  Continued efforts to undermine the ACA by refusing to lock in payments of cost sharing subsidies or not enforcing the individual mandate
  • Cuts to women’s health programs, such as the recent cancellation of grants to teen pregnancy prevention programs
  • House GOP 2018 budget proposes huge cuts to Medicare and Social Security
  • President Trump’s budget would cut Medicaid funding in half
  • Further ACA or Medicaid cuts could be achieved by holding the upcoming reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) hostage
  • Other hostage opportunities include requirements to raise the debt ceiling and vote on a   budget continuing resolution if a 2018 budget hasn’t been passed by October 1

Universal Health Care Foundation is working with Protect Our Care Connecticut on actions and next steps to keep the momentum going.  As a start, we are planning a Connecticut-based Our Lives Are On The Line event for July 29.  

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Important First Step on Prescription Drug Affordability

By Jill Zorn

pills-moneyMore and more people in Connecticut can’t afford their prescriptions.  That’s why it was great news when a bill aimed at lowering prescription drug costs for consumers, SB 445, was signed into law by Governor Malloy on July 10.

The bill had bi-partisan support, reflecting its co-sponsors, Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney and Senate Republican President Pro Tem Len Fasano.

SB 445 bans “gag clauses” in contracts between pharmacists and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to enable pharmacists to share prescription drug price information with patients and let them know if a lower cost equivalent alternative is available.  PBMs manage prescription drug costs and access on behalf of insurance companies and employer and government health plans.

The bill also bans “clawbacks” by PBMs which force the pharmacy to charge a patient co-pay, even if the drug costs less than the co-pay.  It will make sure that PBMs don’t pocket the difference between the co-pay and the actual price.

Another provision of the bill allows the Attorney General to collect damages from successful anti-trust law suits against pharmaceutical companies filed on behalf of Connecticut residents who have overpaid for their prescription drugs due to price fixing or other anti-competitive behaviors.  This is important because Attorney General George Jepsen and his staff are currently leading 40 states in a major antitrust case against six generic drug manufacturers.

Universal Health Care Foundation supported the bill and we are pleased to see it made it across the finish line.  Connecticut now joins four other states that have passed similar legislation.  It is an important first step in protecting consumers from paying too much for their medications.

But there is much work left to do to address drug price gouging and the lack of transparency about prescription drug prices.

Next Steps

It’s encouraging to see the Health Care Cabinet has formed four working groups that are focusing on prescription drug affordability.  The groups will start meeting this summer and Foundation president, Frances Padilla, is chairing one of them.

We expect legislators on both sides of the aisle, including Senators Looney and Fasano, will continue to address this issue in the 2018 legislative session.  We look forward to working with them and other advocacy groups to raise awareness and push for solutions to the problem of unaffordable and unfair prescription drug prices.

If you have a story to tell about problems with affording your medications, please send us at email at:  info@universalhealthct.org.


To Learn More:

To track the progress of the Cabinet working groups go here and scroll down to the working groups section.

To learn more about the Attorney General’s antitrust case go here and here.

SB 445 hit some bumps in the road during the legislative process, particularly near the end of the session when Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade raised some objections to the bill.  To learn more about the controversy, go here, here and here.  In an unusual move, Gov. Malloy wrote a letter expressing concerns about the bill on the day he signed it (see the letter at the end of Bill Notification Release 16).

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Call to Action:  Speak out on the terrible Senate health care bill!

A new version of the Senate bill to repeal and replace the ACA, is coming out today.  All indications are that it is still a terrible bill that will take health care away from millions and decimate Medicaid, in order to give tax breaks to the wealthy.

The bill is on a fast track – so the time to speak out is now.

Crafted in secret, as usual, an outline of the newest version was released today at a Republicans-only meeting of Senators. The CBO score on its impact is expected on Monday.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising a vote on the bill by the middle of next weekIf the Senate approves a bill, it will be sent immediately to the House of Representatives for a vote.

Opportunities to have your voice heard: 

Contact Senators Blumenthal and Murphy and your House member. See below for their contact information

  • Thank them for their strong opposition to efforts to repeal the ACA and undermine Medicaid.
  • Encourage them to continue to oppose the Republican bill.
  • Share a story about the impact of the ACA and Medicaid on you or someone you know.

 

Attend Senator Blumenthal’s Emergency Field Hearing in New London on Friday

Show up to be counted or to tell your story.

WHEN: Friday, July 14, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

WHERE: Mitchell College, New London — Weller Center, on second floor of Clark Building (*Parking available in the Montauk Avenue lot)

Please RSVP to courtney_chandler@blumenthal.senate.gov and indicate in your response whether you intend to testify.

 

Attend Friday’s Mike Pence: TrumpCare is GOP WealthCare rally in Providence RI, where the Vice President will be speaking to the National Governors Association

Protect Our Care RI, SEIU Rhode Island, and Indivisible RI are hosting a rally against the efforts to take away the healthcare of millions of Americans for the sake of tax breaks on the wealthy, and they’re asking for people from neighboring states to join them.

WHEN: Friday, July 14, 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM

WHERE: Burnside Park, across from Kennedy Plaza, Providence, RI

Check out the Facebook event page here

 

Attend Representative Esty’s Open Forum on Sunday, which includes “Protecting & defending quality affordable health care for all” on the agenda

Open Forum for all 5th District Residents

Representative Elizabeth Esty is coming to Western CT Civic Action

Also speaking is Nick Maroletti from Senator Chris Murphy’s “Fight Back CT campaign”

Key Issues:

  • Protecting & Defending Quality Affordable Health Care for All
  • Fighting for A Safe and Clean Environment
  • Ensuring Fair & Just Immigration System

WHEN: Sunday, July 16, 4:30PM to 6:00 PM

WHERE: Bridgewater Congregational Church, 10 Clapboard Road, Bridgewater, CT

See the Facebook event page here

 

Contact information for our Senators and Representatives

Senator/Representative CT Office DC Office Website (for email)
Richard Blumenthal 860-258-6940  (Htfd)

203-330-0598 (B’port)

202-224-2823 Blumenthal.senate.gov
Chris Murphy 860-549-8463 202-224-4041 Murphy.senate.gov
Joe Courtney 860-886-0139 202-225-2076 Courtney.house.gov
Rosa DeLauro 203-562-3718 202-225-3661 DeLauro.house.gov
Elizabeth Esty 860-223-8412 202-225-4476 Esty.house.gov
Jim Himes 203-333-6600 202-225-5541 Himes.house.gov
John Larson 860-278-8888 202-225-2265 Larson.house.gov 

 

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