The following message was sent by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Grassroots Team:
There’s a lot going on right now, but we’re going to try and explain some of it--as you may have heard, the Senate held some votes today.
The Senate began by voting to start debate on healthcare bills this afternoon. That vote passed, with both Senators Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska voting no. The Senate also voted on a slightly revised version of BCRA, with the horrible per capita caps on Medicaid. Due to procedural rules, the Senate had get 60 votes and did not. (Both Senators Portman and Capito voted for BCRA--they need to hear about how harmful this vote would be for their constituents with disabilities.) We anticipate that they will vote tomorrow on full repeal; this vote will not be the final vote. Please know this voting process will continue over the next several days with many different votes.
The process they're using moves fast—but currently, we think the Senate will be taking a FINAL vote THURSDAY OR FRIDAY. We do not know what that will be. It doesn’t matter. We’ll let you know when we know--until then you will hear a lot about other votes, but you should focus on advocating as hard as you can until this final vote.
The various bills have morphed and mutated multiple times over the course of the last few weeks, but one thing has stayed the same: any of these bills will absolutely destroy our healthcare system, and with it, the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities. Here’s a quick recap of what all of these bills do:
• No matter which version they vote on, millions of people will lose their health insurance.
• No matter which version they vote on, Medicaid will be cut by billions of dollars.
• No matter which version they vote on, millions of people with disabilities will have a harder time getting the health care and services we need.
If you’re feeling exhausted, scared, or overwhelmed, you’re not alone. This fight has been hard on us because of how important it is - and that’s exactly why we can’t give up now. These last days are critical. Here’s how we can win:
• Keep calling:
◦ Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO.
▪ Top Targets: Senators Capito (WV), Corker (TN), Heller (NV), Portman (OH), Graham (SC), Moran (KS), McCain (AZ)
▪ All Other Republican Senators
◦ Call and thank Senators Collins and Murkowski and ask them to stay strong.
◦ If you have already called, keep calling.
◦ If you have trouble with phone conversations, evenings are a great chance to call and leave a voicemail while offices are closed.
◦ If you use AAC, you can call in using your AAC device, or get a friend to read your message into the phone. After you call your Senators’ DC office, try their state offices. You can use our script:
My name is [your full name]. I’m a constituent of Senator [Name], and I live in [your town] and my zipcode is [zipcode]. I’m calling to ask the Senator to vote NO on any bill that caps or cuts Medicaid. If any of the bills being discussed as part of the budget process are passed, millions of Americans will lose health insurance. These bills take away protections that people with disabilities depend on, drastically cut Medicaid, and will return us to the bad old days when people with disabilities like [me/ my family member/ my friends] were uninsurable. We can’t go back. Please vote AGAINST repealing any form of caps or cuts to Medicaid. It’s time for Congress to scrap repeal, leave Medicaid alone, and work together to improve the ACA. We’re counting on you to do the right thing.
• Thank Senators Murkowski and Collins. Normally, we tell you not to contact senators from other states. But regardless of where you live right now, please thank Senators Collins and Murkowski through email, letters, posting on social media, etc. Just a “Thanks from us and from the entire disability community for your support for people with disabilities. Please stay strong and reject any bill that hurts Medicaid” is more than enough. They will be feeling the pressure from others and we need to to make sure they hear from the disability community to stay strong.
• Send emails and faxes. After you call, email your Senators and say the same thing. Then, send them a fax with that same message.
• Go to your Senators’ local offices and tell their staff what you think. To find your Senators’ local offices, visit contactingcongress.org. Under the contact information for each Senator, there is a list of their local offices. This is one of the most effective ways to get your point across to an elected official.
You may have heard or will hear people saying that a bill is dead or that a vote went well. But we’ve heard that before - people said the same thing about the House bill and we are now in the Senate. So don’t let down your guard - the Medicaid program remains at risk and harmful caps and cuts could very easily pass. We are the only thing standing in the way of these horrible changes. In the next few days, we have to call, email, show up, and advocate like our lives depend on it - because for many of us, they do.
~The CCD Grassroots Team