ADVOCACY ALERT: ACTION REQUIRED
Ask your Senators to vote NO on the revised Senate health reform bill
The Senate recently released a revised version of its healthcare reform bill entitled The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). This bill, like the House version, proposes state waivers, continuous coverage penalties, and deep cuts to Medicaid that would harm patients with costly and chronic health conditions. David O. Barbe, M.D., President of the American Medical Association, stated that “the revised bill does not address the key concerns of physicians and patients regarding proposed Medicaid cuts and inadequate subsidies that will result in millions of Americans losing health insurance coverage.”
This version of the BCRA adds an amendment from Senator Ted Cruz that would allow insurers to offer plans that do not meet Essential Health Benefits requirements, as long as these insurers offer at least one plan that does. Chris Hansen, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, stated that the amendment and the bill as it stands would “leave patients and those with pre-existing conditions paying more for less coverage and would substantially erode the progress our nation has been trying to make in providing affordable, adequate, and meaningful coverage to all Americans.”
This bill harms patients with chronic and complex illnesses 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
- Includes an amendment that would allow insurers to offer low quality health insurance benefits in place of comprehensive benefits under current law
- 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
- Ends Medicaid expansion, leaving millions of the most vulnerable individuals without critical care.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is anticipated to release its analysis of the bill by Monday, and a vote on the bill could take place anytime before the Congressional recess in August.
- 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).
Template For Emailing Your Senators
My name is _________ and I am a constituent from _________. I am also an advocate for (your health condition). 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
[Add a paragraph of brief information about your condition. Tell your story.]
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.