Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Primum Non Nocere - First Do No Harm

by Gregg Chadwick

As the husband of a cancer survivor I ask those who support Trumpcare- "How can you help pass legislation that you know will kill people? Where is your compassion? Where is your humanity?"

Yesterday, the American Medical Association released a letter  expressing fierce opposition to the GOP Senate's current proposed healthcare legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act passed during President Obama's first term. The AMA writes,"Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or “first, do no harm.” The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels."

Written in a series of secret closed meetings, the GOP cabal's Better Care Reconciliation Act, or more accurately Trumpcare, is worse than imagined. According to the latest Congressional Budget Office estimations the bill will strip millions of Americans of their health insurance  - increasing the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026. It would also eliminate the Essential Benefits rule which dictates a minimum standard of health coverage. It destroys Medicaid, it increases health costs for the middle-class families, it cuts coverage for pre-existing conditions, it eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood. Who loses in this scenario? Pretty much everyone in the United States. The negative effects of this bill will hit millions of hard-working Americans. Which Americans are being responsibly represented by this draconian action? The bill creates a false equivalence between affording care and deserving care. Who wins? The only winners are the extremely rich, who will gain a collective $800 billion in tax cuts. This is insane. And morally indefensible!

Brian Beutler in the New Republic interviewed former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear who "argued that there is a contradiction between the Republican Party’s claim to represent religious Christians and their health policy agenda." Beshear said:

"Look, I’m the son of a baptist preacher. I grew up going to church every time the doors opened. But part of that upbringing was, you know, leaving this place a little better off than the way you found it, and living the Golden Rule, as opposed to just quoting it during political campaigns. And man, oh man, how can these folks, you know, call themselves Christian or godly or anything else like they do all the time and then take this kind of attitude and intentionally—intentionally—want to pass stuff that will destroy people’s lives. It’s amazing to me that they can get up and look themselves in the mirror in the morning and not be so ashamed that they have to just go back to bed."

Gregg Chadwick - Nursing Study: Post Op Recovery
24"x18" oil on linen 2012
Collection of Theresa Brown

Below is a video of  Geoff Ginter, a Pine Beach, New Jersey resident whose wife survived cancer, speaking to New Jersey Congressional Representative Tom MacArthur. Ginter says to MacArthur because of his support for Trumpcare that -“You are the reason I stay up at night. You are the reason I can’t sleep. What happens if I lose my job?”

Soumya Karlamangla in the Los Angeles Times reports that,"The Affordable Care Act had a huge impact in California. The percentage of uninsured in the state dropped from 17% before the law went into effect to 7% last year, the lowest rate ever, according to data released this year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control." Noam N. Levey in the Los Angeles Times writes,"The coverage losses in the Senate bill would completely reverse historic gains in recent years under Obamacare. Over the last four years, the share of people without coverage in the U.S. has been cut in half, dropping to the lowest levels ever recorded, data show."

This is a raw moment for so many of us who have pre-existing conditions or who have children or family members who would be directly harmed by Trumpcare. My wife is a cancer survivor whose family is from Wisconsin, where over 400,000 stand to lose coverage if Trumpcare passes. Make no mistake - this is real, and this is scary. But we also know that we’ve succeeded for months because groups across the country have been fighting back on their home turf.

As the husband of a cancer survivor I applaud Ginter and his opposition to the GOP bill and I ask those who support Trumpcare- "How can you help pass legislation that you know will kill people? Where is your compassion? Where is your humanity?"

What happens next?


There are still several steps between now and passage of TrumpCare. Here’s how the former congressional staff at Indivisible Team think the fight will unfurl:
  • BREAKING - Facing a rebellion within their own ranks, Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday postponed a vote until after the July Fourth recess. After the July 4th recess, the GOP will start debate on “the bill,” which is just a draft bill intended to make it look like they’re being transparent but in reality is a trick to hide just how awful their finished product will be.
  • Over the next couple days, Senators will submit amendments, most of which will fail and none of which would make this bill redeemable.
  • The Senate will plan to vote on the legislation, but first they will vote on all submitted amendments (known as “vote-a-rama”).
  • At the last possible minute, Senate Republicans will replace the entire bill they just got finished “debating” with an alternative TrumpCare bill secretly crafted behind closed doors.
  • There will be a final vote in the Senate.
  • As soon as that same day, the House may then pass the legislation and send it to Trump to sign. This could take longer, but this is the worst case scenario and quite possible.
Throughout this process there will be precisely zero public hearings in the Senate. Make no mistake, this is a historically partisan, secretive, and undemocratic process for one of the most consequential pieces of legislation of our generation. 

This is atrocious. So let’s fight it.
It’s critical that you’re showing up and that you’re calling your Senators every single day. All you need to pressure your Republican Senators, including DAILY scripts and new materials, is on our TrumpCareTen.org website.  Need more background materials? We’ve got ‘em for you here:
Protesters rally against the Senate Republican health care bill outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on June 28. | Getty

As Indivisible writes,"We are under no illusions that victory is assured here, but victory is possible. Every member of Congress voting on this bill will eventually have to get your vote to be reelected. That’s the source of your constituent power. That’s what makes them responsive to pressure. Remember in March when Paul Ryan embarrassingly called off his first TrumpCare vote? That happened because of public pressure. That happened because of you." The 2018 elections are not far off. 
Several GOP senators, including Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, and (just this afternoon after McConnell delayed the bill) Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia have already made it known that they will not support the bill in its present form. Given how little media coverage the GOP Trumpcare bill received prior to its unveiling, this is very encouraging. 

Remember - health care is a winnable fight.

BREAKING - Facing a rebellion within their own ranks, Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday postponed a vote until after the July Fourth recess. 

WED June 28, 2017 UPDATE: "Separate surveys from NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist, USA Today/Suffolk University and Quinnipiac University — all released on Wednesday — show fewer than one-in-five voters back the GOP push to repeal and replace Obamacare. They were all conducted prior to McConnell’s decision to pull the bill on Tuesday — but it’s a jaw-dropping lack of support for major legislation" via Politico

We’re not going down. Let’s stand together. Let’s win this.

Have you called your senator today?

Use the sample script below created by Indivisible for calls to your Senator’s office. 


CALLER: Hi! My name is [name] and I’m calling from [part of state]. Is Senator ___ committed to giving the public a meaningful chance to read and understand the final Trumpcare bill before voting on it? 

STAFFER: Yes! The Senator is very pleased that Leader McConnell buckled to his demands to give the public a chance to read the bill. It was posted on Thursday! Here, let me give you the link so you can read it. 

CALLER: Is this the final version of the bill? Or will it be amended before there is a final vote? 

STAFFER: There will be an open amendment process before the final vote. 

CALLER: I won’t fall for this. Senator McConnell can offer a completely different bill as “an amendment in the nature of a substitute” at the very end of a vote-a-rama. That means the bill that’s been released is a complete charade. 

STAFFER: Well, I don’t know about that. What I can say is that the Senator is committed to transparency, but he does not control what bills come for a vote when. 

CALLER: Yes, he does. He can and should refuse to vote for any bill released at the very last minute. Why haven’t there been hearings on this bill that affects 1/6 of our economy? In 2009 and 2010, there were hundreds of hours of hearings. There were town halls. There were committee mark ups. And there were even dozens of substantive Republican amendments included in the final bill. Will Senator ___ commit to me that he won’t let this bill come to a vote until there’s been a hearing on it? 

STAFFER: I don’t know. I’ll pass along your thoughts to the Senator. 

CALLER: Thank you. Please take down my contact information so you can let me know what the Senator says after you let him know my thoughts. I expect the Senator to make sure there is at least one hearing on this bill before it is voted on. 

STAFFER: Ok, I will. 

CALLER: Can you repeat my contact information back to me? I just want to make sure you recorded it correctly. Thank you. 

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