Calling Scripts for March 8, 2017

Overview:   

  • The House Energy & Commerce Committee and Ways & Means Committee are meeting today to markup the AHCA, the House GOP's ACA repeal bill.
  • HJ. Res. 44 passed on a 51-48 vote. All Democrats and independents voted against it.
  • Cloture was filed on the confirmation of Seema Verma as CMS Administrator. 
  • The Senate will vote on HJ. Res. 58 today.

Details/Context:

AHCA:

Today the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee are holding markup sessions for the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the House GOP's bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As noted yesterday, the AHCA primarily benefits the wealthy and would raise costs and lower coverage to most Americans.

Notably, the GOP delayed release of their draft bill until the last possible moment, and is now proceeding into its markup sessions (the sessions in which the bill will be debated and possibly amended before being reported to the full House) only a day later, before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has had a chance to score the bill. The CBO is the congressional agency that analyzes new legislation in order to determine what its costs and effects will be, something that is typically done before a bill enters the markup phase. However, the GOP has made passage of the AHCA such a high priority that they are pushing the bill forward before its effects on the federal budget and on consumers have been estimated. This means that the two committees debating the bill today will be doing so with no information about how much it will cost.

Nevertheless, in January the CBO did release an initial assessment of how coverage and premiums would be affected if the ACA were entirely repealed (see link below). According to their estimates, 18 million people would lose coverage in the first year, rising to 32 million by 2026. Furthermore, premiums would increase by 20 to 25% in the first year, by 50% in the year that Medicaid expansions are eliminated, and eventually doubling by 2026.

Relevant Links:

Seema Verma:

Yesterday, a motion of cloture was filed on the confirmation of Seema Verma as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS is the federal agency that administers Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Given HHS Secretary Tom Price's stated preference that Medicaid and possibly also Medicare be cut or radically changed, Verma would be responsible for implementing those cuts.

Prior to being tapped for the position as CMS Administrator, Verma became known for her work in changing Indiana's state Medicaid program under Governors Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence. The programs she came up with--known as the "Healthy Indiana Plan" and "HIP 2.0"--replaced traditional Medicaid with a plan that required contributions to to a health savings account (HSA), sometimes required premiums to be paid, and also had high deductibles, even for low-income patients.

Additionally, during her confirmation hearing, Verma stated that she would consider changing Medicaid to a block grant and implementing per-capita caps. This would certainly have the effect of raising costs for Medicaid enrollees, who by the nature of the Medicaid program are the people least able to endure higher costs.

Once a motion of cloture is filed, the Senate cannot vote on the motion for two days, meaning a cloture vote will likely happen on Thursday. If that motion passes, then debate on the confirmation vote will be limited to 30 hours, setting up a final vote early next week (though possibly as early as Saturday).

Relevant Links:

HJ. Res. 58:

House Joint Resolution 58 passed the House on February 7, 2017. This resolution disapproves a Department of Education rule relating to teacher preparation. This rule implements requirements for teacher training programs as specified by the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act (a reauthorization of the 1965 Higher Education Act). The rule aimed to improve transparency and quality in teacher training programs, requiring teacher feedback in order to make improvements to training programs, and giving states flexibility in determining how to define a "high-quality" training program.

Notably, this rule is being disapproved using procedures under the Congressional Review Act, which not only would repeal the rule, but would also prevent any similar rule from being implemented. Therefore, the Department of Education would be unable to create any rules or guidelines to implement the Higher Education Act unless that act were reauthorized again by Congress, and these aspects of teacher training programs would be completely unregulated at the federal level.

Relevant Links:


Conclusion/Call Script Overview

Today I will be calling both my senators to ask them to oppose the nomination of Seema Verma as CMS Administrator. I will also ask them to oppose HJ. Res. 58.

I'll also be calling my Congressman and asking him to oppose the AHCA and to push to delay further consideration of the bill until the CBO can release its analysis.

Please note, the more personal you can make your calls, the better. If you can give details about how ACA repeal will personally affect you or your loved ones, please do.

If you're not from California, you can find contact information for all US senators here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

If you don't know who your representative is in the House, you can look it up here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/


Script for Calling Dianne Feinstein

"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to thank Senator Feinstein for voting against HJ. Res. 44 yesterday. I believe that the GOP's repeals of our necessary federal protections is wrong, so I'd also like to ask the Senator to please oppose HJ. Res. 58 today. Finally, I'm very concerned about Seema Verma's record on Medicaid cuts and program changes, and I'd like to ask the Senator to please oppose her nomination as CMS Administrator. Thank you."

Note: If you can provide real stories about how Medicare/Medicaid cuts will affect you or your loved ones, please include that in your call.

SD: (619) 231-9712
SF: (415) 393-0707
LA: (310) 914-7300
Fresno: (559) 485-7430
DC: (202) 224-3841

Email Contact Form


Script for Calling Kamala Harris

"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to thank Senator Harris for voting against HJ. Res. 44 yesterday. I believe that the GOP's repeals of our necessary federal protections is wrong, so I'd also like to ask the Senator to please oppose HJ. Res. 58 today. Finally, I'm very concerned about Seema Verma's record on Medicaid cuts and program changes, and I'd like to ask the Senator to please oppose her nomination as CMS Administrator. Thank you."

Note: If you can provide real stories about how Medicare/Medicaid cuts will affect you or your loved ones, please include that in your call.

SD: (619) 239-3884
SF: (415) 355-9041
LA: (213) 894-5000
Fresno: (559) 497-5109
Sacramento: (916) 448-2787
DC: (202) 224-3553

Email Contact Form


Script for Calling Scott Peters

"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I am calling because I saw that the GOP is trying to ram through their ACA repeal bill and started the markup sessions today, before the CBO has even had a chance to score the bill. I think that it is absolutely necessary to have that information before these bills can be considered, so I would like to ask Congressman Peters to please oppose this repeal, and to push as hard as possible to delay any further consideration of the bills until the CBO can provide information about its effects and costs. Thank you."

Note: If you can provide real stories about how ACA repeal will affect you or your loved ones, please include that in your call.

SD: (858) 455-5550
DC: (202) 225-0508

Email Contact Form