Ask your Senators to vote NO on the Senate Healthcare Repeal Bill
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released the Senate version of health reform legislation entitled The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). The bill was slated for a vote this week but, after fierce opposition from the public health community, the vote has been postponed until after the July 4th recess. The bill is expected to undergo some changes in order to gain the support of Senators that have thus far withheld support of the measure.
The bill, while seeking to reduce insurance premiums and provide coverage options to individuals with high healthcare costs, harms patients in the following ways:
- Allows insurers to offer less comprehensive policies through a provision that allows states to waive the federal mandate on essential health benefits. While insurers will still be required to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions, these individuals may not have all their treatments and services covered.
- Allows states that seek and receive waivers to opt out of limits on patient out-of-pocket costs and annual/lifetime caps.
- Contains a continuous coverage requirement, which would charge a penalty to individuals with a gap in their insurance coverage.
- Allows insurers to charge older Americans five times more than younger Americans for the same coverage.
- Ends Medicaid expansion, leaving millions of the most vulnerable individuals without critical care.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has stated that the BCRA would cause:
- 15 million more people to be uninsured next year.
- In ten years, that number would grow to 22 million people uninsured.
- Patient out-of-pocket expenditures to rise dramatically, especially for people in states that opt for Essential Health Benefits waivers.
- The prohibitions on annual and lifetime benefit caps could be eliminated in states that opt for Essential Health Benefits waivers.
Now is the time to weigh in with your Senators and make sure they oppose the BCRA as currently proposed and make sure they go back to the drawing board and work together to find ways to protect patients with chronic and costly medical conditions.
- Secure the contact information for your Senators by visiting www.Senate.gov and using the “Find Your Senator” query tool in the upper right corner.
- Call the office and ask for the Health Legislative Assistant. You can either leave a voicemail or request their e-mail address and send them a message using the template below.
- Politely and occasionally follow up on your request. You should have an expectation that the office will respond to your specific concerns.
- If you would like to do more, you can request a brief meeting with the staff at your Senators’ local offices (the location office information is on their websites).
My name is _________ and I am a constituent from _________. I am also an advocate for interstitial cystitis patients. I write to urge you to Vote No on the Senate’s Healthcare Bill.
The Senate Healthcare Bill would:
- Jeopardize patient access to quality, affordable & available coverage
- Cut-off health coverage for millions of Americans
- Bring back annual and lifetime caps on coverage
- Price people with pre-existing conditions out of the insurance market
I write to urge you to maintain stability for chronic disease patients as you and your colleagues consider healthcare reform. It is my hope that you and your colleagues in the Senate will preserve key patient protections and respect the circumstances of those combatting chronic and costly illnesses.
Specifically, please ensure any Senate proposal:
- maintains essential health benefits
- prohibits pre-existing condition discrimination
- prohibits lifetime and annual caps on benefits
- limits out-of-pocket costs for patients in a meaningful way
- allows young adults to stay on family coverage until they are 26
Patients need a transparent, bipartisan effort to stabilize the insurance market, bring down premiums, and retain the patient protections that are so critical to patients, consumers and their families. We urge the Senate to go back to the drawing board, and work together to find ways to protect patients with serious illness.
Thank you for your time and your consideration of this letter. Please tell me how you have responded to my request.