What do we know? Resistance and voters being vocal is working!

Chances are that if you are reading this, you have more than a passing interest in the biggest debate of our lifetimes.  There is no more vital issue to human beings than their health, and all of the related activities associated with either being in good health or poor health.

Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have. ~Winston Churchill

With more than 17 years of advocacy under our belts, Florida CHAIN has been a leading voice for access to affordable health care since we began.  Our advocacy work continues, as we seek bipartisan solutions to those issues and allow Florida citizens to live their lives without fear of economic catastrophe if someone in their family becomes ill.

Florida CHAIN has been monitoring the ongoing debate and activities surrounding the Affordable Care Act since the election of Donald Trump and the new Congress. The Florida Legislature is busy preparing for session, and there seems to be a “wait and see” attitude in that legislative body on health care issues, although Governor Scott continues to loudly press for an immediate repeal of Obamacare.  (see our previous response to the Governor)

Predating the Affordable Care Act, “an 11-country survey found that adults in the United States were far more likely than those in other countries to go without needed care because of costs and to struggle to afford basic necessities such as housing and healthy food. U.S. adults are also more likely to report having poor health and emotional distress. Bright spots for the U.S. include rates of timely access to specialist care, discussion with a physician about ways to lead a healthy life, and coordinated hospital discharge planning.

“In comparison to adults in the other 10 countries, adults in the U.S. are sicker and more economically disadvantaged. The resulting challenge to the U.S. health system is compounded by higher health care costs, greater income disparities, and relatively low levels of spending on social services.”

Although the U.S. has made significant progress in expanding insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, it remains an outlier among high-income countries in ensuring access to health care. The authors point out that all of the other countries surveyed provide universal insurance coverage, and many provide better cost protection and a more extensive safety net. To address the barriers to access and affordability identified in the survey, policymakers might consider expanding Medicaid eligibility in the 19 states that have not yet done so; limiting the amount people need to spend out of pocket on health care; and creating a stronger primary care system.”

One thing everyone agrees on is that there is no easy solution to this issue. The campaign rhetoric from the winning side demanded immediate repeal, heard both from candidates and voters.  After the election, many voters came to realize that their own families could be negatively impacted by an across the board immediate repeal.  Anecdotal evidence suggests many were confused that “Obamacare” the “Affordable Care Act” were one in the same.  Infighting amongst the GOP in Congress might prevent them from getting even a simple majority on their two highest legislative priorities, tax reform and healthcare. The other thing that most everyone agrees on is that lives are hanging in the balance while the politics plays on.

“Some revision of the ACA is inevitable and even desirable. If Democrats and Republicans jointly agree on establishing specific goals for the reform, building on the existing process for monitoring attainment of those targets, it could lead to measurable improvements in the health system. In doing so, the “repeal and replace” campaign slogan could be transformed into ‘repair with results.’”Newsweek

What can we do now to help?

It is most encouraging to see and hear thousands of Floridians raising their voices in support of Affordable Health Care and continuation of the Affordable Health Care Act.  Dozens of state and national advocacy sites have formed since the election, joining with more traditional and equally active voices in Florida.  We thought we’d share some activities, outlets, resources and opportunities with you, so that you can get more involved, if you haven’t already, and add your powerful voice to the symphony.  Together, we can make a bigger difference.

  1. Engage and interact with your elected Congress member and Senator. One versatile guidebook on how to accomplish that is available on the website  Former Congressional staffers tell us that the ideal way is to call on the phone directly to your representative’s offices.

Our partners at Community Catalyst have offered additional suggestions:

We now know that the 2017 budget reconciliation process, which Republicans plan to use as a vehicle for repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is likely to stretch into late February or early March. In just over a week, members of Congress will head home for President’s Day recess (beginning February 18). A longer timeline for reconciliation makes this a critical week of action for health care advocates and supporters across the country to send a clear message to all members of Congress, whether they are vocal opponents or staunch supporters of the ACA, that the current plan to repeal the law with no clear replacement is both reckless and unpopular. In this alert, you will find a variety of materials designed to help you plan your own activities, tap in to others’ events, and ensure that you are able to take full advantage of this important week. 

Sending the right message

In this effort, it is important that we reach all members of Congress – senators and representatives on both sides of the aisle, from all perspectives in the health care debate.

  • ACA Supporters: Now is the time to thank these members of Congress for standing up and to show them they have the support of their constituents behind them. For this group, the key message is: Thank You!
  • Targets: members of Congress who are identified as targets for their position on repeal without replace must continue to hear that their constituents want them to stand up against any plan that will harm consumers and their support will be recognized and appreciated.
  • ACA Opponents: senators and representatives who are actively and vocally supporting repeal need to know that simply shifting the messaging to “repair” will not work and their constituents expect them to ensure that coverage and protections are not taken away. 

Planning activities

When planning for February recess, it’s important to keep in mind: 1) your current capacity, including available resources, grassroots reach, and staffing; 2) your current political environment; and 3) the style and intensity of the message you are sending to your members of Congress and to the public. There are several effective options for engagement across the spectrum.

  • Recess Activities Graphic:This visual is designed to help you brainstorm what activities may be right for you based on the capacity you have available and how intense your message delivery needs to be (or not be) in order to be effective.
  • Recess Activities Toolkit:We walk you through several activities in our newly-updatedrecess toolkit, providing some best practices and logistics to consider.

Dates to remember:

Valentine’s Day Call-in Day: Our partners at SEIU have organized a call-in day today, February 14. You can use their toll-free number (866-426-2631), which uses the caller’s zip code to direct them to the right congressional target with a sample script for the call.

  • February 18 Events with House members: Democratic members of the House of Representatives are planning events across the country onFebruary 18 to defend the ACA, Medicare, and Medicaid. If you  would like to attend or spread the word, you can call your Representatives’ district offices and ask for details.
  • Additional Events Hosted by Members of Congress: Many members of Congress are planning their own events while they are in their home districts for recess. You can be sure that health care is a main topic of discussion by attending these events and encouraging your networks to do the same. This spreadsheet, which is updated regularly, lists town halls and other events being planned by congressional offices. (See the Recess Activities Toolkit for sample questions that can be asked at these events.)

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