Senate Moves to Imperil Health Care for Millions
Today, the Senate voted to move forward with an effort to pass Trumpcare, which would repeal Obamacare and "defund" Planned Parenthood. The move came despite millions of people across the country expressing opposition and outrage at the various pieces of legislation that have been proposed - which would all leave tens of millions uninsured, charge women more for less insurance coverage and prevent millions of people with Medicaid coverage from coming to Planned Parenthood health centers for basic, preventive care. Vice President Mike Pence, who authored the original legislation to "defund" Planned Parenthood as a Congressman, had to cast the tie-breaking vote on the worst bill for women's health in a generation.
Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
"In all of its various forms, this bill is the worst bill for women in a generation. From ending maternity coverage and the birth control benefit for millions to blocking women's access to preventive care at Planned Parenthood, every version of Trumpcare has been devastating to women. And at every step of the process, this legislation has only gotten worse as Republican leaders have chipped away at women's health and rights. The Senate must reject Trumpcare, or they will be responsible for putting millions of people's lives at risk. No amount of D.C. wheeling and dealing will change the fact that Trumpcare would leave tens of millions of people stranded without the essential health care they and their families depend on today.
"Make no mistake: This fight is far from over. This Senate bill is on life support because of its deep unpopularity and because of the incredible power of the American people speaking out. Planned Parenthood supporters across the country will keep fighting this bill at every step, at every twist and at every turn. One voice may be easy to dismiss, but together our voices are too loud to ignore. Now - more than ever - is the moment to speak out, call your Senators and demand they vote NO on the final bill. Congress must listen to the vast majority of people in this country and reject Trumpcare."
FACT: No matter what version of Trumpcare the Senate votes on, it's still the worst bill for women's health.
* Every version of Trumpcare would take away health insurance from tens of millions of people and make it less affordable for those who will still have insurance. Official estimates say that various versions of Trumpcare would result in anywhere between 22 million and 32 million people losing coverage.
* Every version of Trumpcare would "defund" Planned Parenthood by blocking people with Medicaid coverage from accessing preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers - including birth control, cancer screenings and STI testing and treatment. Unlike other provisions of the bill, this would go into effect immediately.
* Every version of Trumpcare would result in people paying more for health insurance coverage, raising out-of-pocket costs significantly - for those who are still left with coverage.
* Every version of Trumpcare would gut the Medicaid program, which approximately one in five women of reproductive age rely on to access no-cost, critical reproductive health care such as birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings and maternity care.
* Every version of Trumpcare would dramatically reduce - or eliminate - access to financial assistance that helps 85 percent of people on the marketplace purchase insurance. This will reduce access to no-cost preventive services, including birth control, and lifesaving care, such as prescription drug coverage.
* A number of versions of Trumpcare would impose a nationwide ban on private insurance coverage of abortion by prohibiting financial assistance from being used to pay for an abortion outside of rape, incest and life endangerment. Plans could be subject to a penalty for violating this provision.
* A number of versions of Trumpcare would cut Essential Health Benefits protections, including maternity coverage and prescription drugs, which disproportionately affect women. About 13 million women could lose coverage to maternity care under this bill. The U.S. maternal mortality rate is rising, and considerable racial disparities persist. Maternal mortality rates among black women are four times higher than white women.
FACT: A powerful editorial in The Washington Post underscores the devastating impact of blocking access to care at Planned Parenthood: "Of all the magical thinking that has gone into Republican proposals to replace Obamacare, none has been more fanciful than the argument accompanying efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.... In truth, millions of women would lose access to critical health care."
FACT: Mitch McConnell's $200 billion Medicaid deal is little more than a partisan, political side deal that falls short of helping those who would be hurt by Trumpcare.
* The $200 billion fund being proposed to win over Senators concerned about Medicaid is a bad deal. The $200 billion funding will run out in two years and in no way, shape or form will make up for the bill's $1.2 trillion in cuts to health care and the 15 million people losing Medicaid.
* The $200 billion only accounts for 17 percent of the bill's $1.2 trillion in cuts to health care.
FACT: The Parliamentarian has ruled that the provision to "defund" Planned Parenthood violates the Byrd Rule and should not be included in the Senate health care repeal bill, or any bill passed through the reconciliation process. Relatedly, the Parliamentarian also determined that abortion restrictions for tax credits also violate the Byrd Rule. This is not surprising news, given that both policies are very clearly motivated by a political agenda and are not primarily budgetary in nature. Targeting Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood provides abortion is an obvious violation of the Byrd Rule because the provision's primary intent is clearly political, and the budgetary impact is "merely incidental" to that purpose. No amount of legislative sleight of hand will change the fact that the primary motivation here is to pursue a social agenda by targeting Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood provides the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion.
There's simply no way to rewrite the defund Planned Parenthood provision to get around the fact that it's rooted in advancing a politically motivated agenda attacking reproductive health. For this reason, it is important to remember that historically, abortion policy hasn't been allowed on reconciliation bills because it is political in nature. As former Senate Parliamentarian Robert Dove said in an NPR interview regarding abortion policy, "It was my view that the provision was not there in order to save money. It was there to implement social policy. Therefore I ruled that it was not in order and it was stricken."
Policy focused on advancing a social agenda (for example, targeting access to Planned Parenthood, birth control or abortion) - no matter how it is written - is always going to violate Byrd, because the intent is clearly political, and not about the budget.
FACT: Planned Parenthood grassroots organizing has been a driving force in opposing Trumpcare and efforts to "defund" Planned Parenthood. For months, an army of pink-clad Planned Parenthood patients, supporters and advocates have taken thousands of actions from coast to coast including attending protest rallies, speaking out at congressional town halls, calling their members of Congress, delivering petitions to congressional offices and hosting field hearings.
Over the past several months, Planned Parenthood supporters have:
* Made more than 190,000 phone calls to members of Congress
* Organized more than 2,200 events across the country, including rallies, petition drops, phone banks and marches
* Delivered more than 1 million petition signatures to members of Congress in opposition to "defunding" Planned Parenthood
FACT: A bipartisan majority of Americans support Planned Parenthood and oppose "defunding."
* A Quinnipiac poll shows that 80 percent of voters, including 67 percent of Republicans, oppose efforts to block people from getting care at Planned Parenthood.
* The Senate healthcare repeal bill is the most unpopular bill in three decades, and the provision blocking women from Planned Parenthood is one of the most unpopular parts - with 80 percent of voters, including 67 percent of Republicans, opposing.
* A NBC News/WSJ poll shows that only 12 percent of voters in "Trump" counties support the House version of Trumpcare. About 41 percent said it was a "bad idea." (NBC News/WSJ polled 439 counties where Trump either significantly outperformed Mitt Romney's vote in 2012 or flipped the vote from President Barack Obama. In these counties, Trump's job approval rating stands at 50 percent - about 10 points higher than in most national polls.)
FACT: The Planned Parenthood provision is still a no-go for key Republican senators.
* Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Susan Collins have been clear in their opposition to the "defunding" Planned Parenthood provision in the Senate repeal bill.
* Senator Dean Heller publicly said he would "protect Planned Parenthood." Nevadans expect him to keep his word.