GOP senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy introduced a new healthcare bill earlier this month, in a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace Obamacare before September 30. That's the last day Republicans have to pass the repeal through a process called reconciliation, which allows them to clear legislation with a simple majority instead of the standard 60 votes threshold. It seemed like the Graham-Cassidy bill was dead on arrival when it was introduced, but last week it started picking up steam.
In fact, the legislation being proposed might be the most extreme repeal yet. The difference between this legislation and the previous ones is that the Graham-Cassidy bill gives all the power back to the states.
It would replace many of the ACA's statutes — such as the Medicaid expansion and Obamacare's subsidies for private insurance — and give states new block grants in place so they can deal with healthcare as they see fit. But that might lead to loosening protections on pre-existing conditions, which would mean millions can be left with higher premiums or no coverage at all. The legislation will also get rid of the mandate requiring employers to offer health insurance, and would withhold federal funding from Planned Parenthood.
Previous versions of the Obamacare repeal would leave about 20 million more people uninsured by 2026, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO.) But because Republicans are pushing for the bill at the eleventh hour, the CBO will be able to only provide a "preliminary assessment" of the Graham-Cassidy bill — which won't include how the legislation will affect premiums or how many people will have medical coverage. If senators vote on this legislation, they will be doing so without knowing how it will impact the lives of millions of Americans.
If you don't want the Affordable Care Act to be repealed, there's still some hope: All 48 Democrats are expected to vote against the repeal. And if more than two Republicans vote "no" as well, the Graham-Cassidy bill will fail.
One important way to make a difference is to call your senators. (Here's a quick guide on how to do it.) The left-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP) also put together a list of Republican senators that people should contact, because they are more likely to vote against the legislation. Their names and phone numbers are listed below:
Sen. Susan Collins, ME: (202) 224-2523
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, AK: (202) 224-6665
Sen. John McCain, AZ: (202) 224-2235
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, WV: (202) 224-6472
Sen. Rob Portman, OH: (202) 224-3353
Sen. Cory Gardner, CO: (202) 224-5941
Sen. Lamar Alexander, TN: (202) 224-4944
Sen. Jerry Moran, KS: (202) 224-6521
Sen. Tom Cotton, AR: (202) 224-2353
Sen. Joni Ernst, IA: (202) 224-3254
Sen. Thom Tillis, NC: (202) 224-6342
Sen. John Hoeven, ND: (202) 224-2551
Sen. John Kennedy, LA: (202) 224-4623
Sen. Ron Johnson, WI: (202) 224-5323
Sen. Mike Rounds, ND: (202) 224-5842
Sen. Jeff Flake, AZ: (202) 224-4521
Sen. Dean Heller, NV: (202) 224-6244
Remember to call only the people representing you. Unless you can provide a zip code, which proves you're one of the senator's constituent, your call will not be tallied.
The previous efforts to get rid of Obamacare failed because people put pressure on their elected officials to reject the GOP bills. That was done through town halls, protests, and relentless phone calls to Congress. With this bill, it's a race against the clock and it will be harder to sway your senators again. But if you support the ACA and believe there should be a bipartisan solution to fixing healthcare, it's necessary to try to stop the repeal from going through. Time to pick up that phone.
This story was originally published on September 19, 2017. It has since been updated.