Unions, activists and advocates for better U.S. health care vowed to keep the pressure on Congress after two more Senate Republicans’ defections killed the latest GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
That’s because the defeat of the Republicans’ measure led its sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to say he will call for a vote to repeal the ACA without replacing it.
Repeal of the ACA, the nation’s seven-year-old comprehensive health care law, would be “an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions” for millions, says Ethan Rome of Health Care Action Now, a D.C.-based coalition of unions and progressives. HCAN’s steering committee includes the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the Service Employees, the Auto Workers, the National Education Association and the United Food and Commercial Workers.
Union activism against the Republican efforts included a Steel Workers video of an Ohio USW member and his one-year-old son. Both have brain cancer, and both would see their coverage yanked if either the ACA is repealed but not replaced, or replaced with McConnell’s now-dead measure.
Instead of “celebrating as newlyweds and new parents,” the video says, Maggie and Ryan Link are worrying about coverage for Ryan and Nathan. They’re also calling senators.
They’re not alone. “Our fight is not over yet. All Letter Carriers should call their senators…and urge them to oppose this attack on middle-class workers and their families,” NALC said. And the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, headlined its action alert: “Call Now. Stop Trumpcare,” in big, boldface type. NEA has more than 3 million members. It stressed the threat of repeal to the kids its members teach and serve.
National Nurses United brought in hundreds of nurses for a Town Hall session of their own on Wednesday.
McConnell pulled his measure, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, on Monday after Senators Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, joined its two prior foes, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky. That left him without enough votes to pass it.
McConnell may try to bring up his health care bill by Friday, but Republicans Collins, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska say they’ll oppose even starting debate on it without a replacement. Their stand leaves McConnell one vote short. All 46 Democrats and both independents oppose McConnell’s action.
Dumping the ACA without replacing it “would take health care away from 32 million Americans” and health insurance “premiums would double” for millions more, Rome said. “The insurance industry would be in charge again, people would be sicker and people would die because they wouldn’t have insurance.
“We’ll do everything we can to keep the pressure on so that health care repeal doesn’t come to a vote,” he said.