OMG We are SO Tired of This Repeal BS! Here’s What We Need to Do

We know you are tired of beating back health care repeal bills. We are, too. We’ve been doing this for months, and it doesn’t get any easier.

The only saving grace is that the the Senate Republicans can only attempt to repeal the ACA through the gimmick called reconciliation until September 30. (And really, it’s September 29, since the Senate won’t be voting on Yom Kippur.) That’s only eight days away!

The time is short, so we have to work fast! Here’s what you can do right now to help stop this final attempt at repeal:

    1. Call Sens. Cornyn and Cruz at 202-224-3121 and tell them:
      My name is [Name] and I am one of your constituents. I want Senator [Cruz/Cornyn] to oppose Graham-Cassidy because it will take healthcare away from millions including children, people with disabilities seniors and even victims of natural disasters like Harvey and Irma. (If you also have a personal story to share, it really helps.)
    2. Sign up for a timeslot in our call relay! The goal is to get enough people signed up every day to make calls all day long so the DC office phones never stop ringing. This page will reset each day until we #KillTheBill. (You can still call whenever you want!)
    3. If you’ve called both Sens. Cornyn and Cruz and you’re asking yourself: what more can I do? How can I influence Republicans in red states who may be on the fence? You can sign up to call constituents in the target states and ask them to call THEIR senators!
    4. Join us this Sunday, Sept 24 at 8:30 a.m., for a Public Square Town Hall to take a last stand against ACA repeal and Medicaid cuts! Sens. Cruz and Cornyn will be just steps away from our event, speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival!
    5. Sign up here to get email and occasional text alerts for urgent actions.

BONUS: Submit comments to the Senate Finance Committee by Monday at noon! 

Thank you for supporting Texans who depend on the ACA and Medicaid for their healthcare!

We’re Showing Up for Texas Today

Today we have a message for the president. Texans are hurting from Hurricane Harvey, and it will take us years to recover. While it will be some time before the full damage estimates and economic impact of the storm are assessed, we can be sure that our great state’s recovery will take a long time. But we’re Texans, and we’re not afraid of the hard work ahead of us.

Texas has never seen a storm like Harvey. It is epochal.

On his Texas visit today the president will likely take advantage of some photo opportunities, and speak some self-described perfect words. He will no doubt make promises and try to burnish his presidential image. But the real measure of his response will not be if he appears more presidential, but rather his administration’s accomplishments in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Will that response tackle not only the misfortunes of the affluent in this disaster, but also the misfortunes of those his administration has habitually targeted from its start?

It is difficult to reconcile the forthcoming pledges to rebuild impacted areas of Texas with the president’s pardon of Joe Arpaio as the storm was bearing down on Houston (for ratings, he said), his refusal to close border patrol checkpoints on evacuation routes out of South Texas, his destruction of some of our state’s most treasured natural gems to make way for his border wall, and his imminent repeal of DACA. That’s why we’re showing up for Texas today during the president’s visit.

There has never ever been a natural disaster in the U.S. during which public officials have had to clarify numerous times that those seeking shelter from the storm and  flooding will not be deported.

The test is simple. Will this administration start to take the threat of climate change seriously and begin tackling the technological and infrastructure challenges necessary to reduce the impact of future disasters like this one? Will this administration make sure that the poorest communities and communities of color – which suffer disparate impacts of natural disasters – recover from this storm? Or will those communities be offered only platitudes and empty gestures? Time will tell, but the recent actions of this administration make clear its steadfast refusal to extend the same consideration to those communities that it extends to the well-to-do. We are showing up today to make sure the administration knows we will not allow these concerns to be swept under the rug in the usual post-disaster niceties.

We also cannot forget that many other policies this administration pursues have negative impacts on our state, and when combined with the devastation from Harvey, further harm our state and our people.

The proposed border wall means Texans will lose their land through eminent domain, and fragile ecological regions will be decimated; even our own Senator John Cornyn’s recent border “security” bill doesn’t include funding for the president’s vision of this folly.

The nation’s largest inland port, Laredo, is on the front lines of the president’s Twitter war against against NAFTA. In 2015, Texas exported nearly $100 billion in goods to Mexico, and some 382,000 Texas jobs are linked to trade with Mexico. Targeting NAFTA hurts Texans and hurts our economy.

The president’s intention to rescind DACA, which is expected to happen this week, will have a disproportionate impact in Texas. Of the nearly 800,000 young adults whose DACA status has been approved, more than 25 percent of them live in Texas. They may have come to the U.S. as undocumented children through no fault of their own, but they have followed specific requirements to remain in the U.S. legally. As a result, they have graduated from colleges, started Texas businesses, bought homes, and built lives in Texas. For that they are being used to score political points by an administration determined to take a hard line on all immigrants regardless of status. He has used them as scapegoats. He lies about crime statistics to stigmatize a vulnerable group, and to stoke fear and hatred of all immigrants.

Trump’s policies will harm the Texas economy, which will be deeply strained during the long road of recovery from Harvey. We are already gearing up for the budget fights in Congress that could stifle the emergency relief we so desperately need.

Harvey has to be our top priority right now, as we anticipate thousands of evacuees coming to Austin. We have been and will continue supporting the rescuers and aid givers who need our volunteer hours and our financial and material assistance. But today we also need to send a message: Texans are great, resilient people, and we will do all we can to protect our state from policies that harm our residents and their livelihoods. 

Indivisible Austin
Wilco Indivisible
Indivisible TXLege
TX10 Indivisible
TX17 Indivisible
TX21 Indivisible
TX35 Indivisible

 

Why I Risk Heat Stroke For Healthcare — A Texas Protester’s Story

Guest post by Emily Wolinsky, posted with permission

It’s July in Texas. I’m not sure if those of you who are not from Texas understand just how hot it becomes at this time of year for people living in this state, but this kind of sweltering sweatfuckery is hard to for most non-Texans to comprehend unless you live it. To paint a picture — Just a few days ago, my friend said she woke up on the ground. She was outside working and passed out from the heat. Most people would go to the hospital after passing out like that — Not here and not most Texans. She just picked herself up off the ground, dusted off her jeans, drank a bottle of water, and got back to her yard work.

Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: 1 Year In Nursing Facility = $82,128, Care at Home = $25,254, TrumpCare (the word “care” in quotes) is not fiscally responsible! Vote No! = Save Lives!
Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: 1 Year In Nursing Facility = $82,128, Care at Home = $25,254, TrumpCare (the word “care” in quotes) is not fiscally responsible! Vote No! = Save Lives!

So yesterday, when I arrived at the location of the second pro-healthcare/anti-deathcare rally that I’ve attended in a week in Austin — in July — at the “Peak of Hell Fire” time of day — you probably can imagine that going out into this heat wasn’t my or anyone’s idea of a dream way to kick back after a long day of work. Yet, me and around two hundred “liberal snowflakes” like me grabbed our protest signs, bottles of water, and our bullhorns, and dragged our asses out to the sidewalks surrounding this posh hotel in northwest Austin where Cruz was set to speak that evening. Our purpose — To go and telepathically tell Ted Cruz that he was a piece of shit for the millionth time.

And wowee was it hot yesterday. Heat like this makes one tired, irritable, nauseous, listless, and more adjectives that describe misery. You get to a rally like this, see all the people, and shout the chants, “Kill the bill” and “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Ted Cruz has got to go” the first ten times with plenty of twangy gusto, but each minute the sun bores down, the words get a bit softer, a bit softer, until you feel your lips moving, but no sound is coming out. You start to wonder if just your mere presence is enough. Eventually your protest sign, with the message you spent hours contemplating in craft-mode in your air conditioned office that afternoon, no longer serves as a sign, but a shield that protects you from the torture of the closest star in our galaxy.

After about ninety minutes, you ask yourself — “Why am I here? Does any of this matter? Will any of this change Ted Cruz’s mind and make him a real human man?” You start to feel overcome with doubt and despair and then you take a second and look around.

Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: We fight today for what you will become tomorrow. Hashtag Save Medicaid.
Emily holds a sign from her power wheelchair that is almost as large as she is. The sign is made from red poster board and states: We fight today for what you will become tomorrow. Hashtag Save Medicaid.

You see people of all ages surrounding you. Many of these people are women — young and old. You see people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to get around. You see people from all sorts of economic backgrounds. You see people with signs that discuss their form of cancer, which was treated thanks the Affordable Care Act. You see people who are obviously still sick and frail under trees, fanning themselves, hanging on for their lives. You see and hear people who are scared — who say they will die without Medicaid. You see people holding signs that say they are veterans and they feel betrayed by our politicians who have sold themselves out to corporations. You see people chanting with their hands using American Sign Language. You listen to thoughtful and intelligent commentary between the chants going on between strangers. You hear people with a sense of humor who try to make a few jokes to lighten this heavy mood. You hear and see one liberal snowflake after another liberal snowflake — And guess what? We aren’t melting. We are hot, but we will not melt.

We won’t melt because there’s a reason for all of this. People matter. Healthcare matters. Our lives and livelihoods have now morphed into budget line items, which are under threat to be crossed out by a man inside the air conditioned hotel holding the red pen. We are fighting for our lives and Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Greg Abbott, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, the G.O.P., cancer, disability, old age, PTSD, blindness, deafness, poorness, and worst of all — the Texas sun will not stop us.

The police are called by the hotel manager. We are getting too close to the large oak trees surrounding the hotel for shade. We need to get further away because we pose a threat. We with our wheelchairs, and our cancer scarves surrounding our scalps, and our orthopedic shoes, and our chants, need to stay out of Ted Cruz’s dark shadow. Ted Cruz is scared…Of Us.

And you know what? He should be.

Action Alert: Human Chain at Texas State Capitol to #ProtectOurCare

We could be just days away from the Senate voting on an Affordable Care Act repeal bill that is both disastrous and cruel. But we’re not going to let them vote without hearing the loud voices of Texans!

This may be our last chance to show the Senate what we’re made of – to tell them NO to gutting Medicaid, NO repeal of the ACA, and NO to Trumpcare.

Thursday night we will surround the Texas State Capitol with a human chain–circling the Capitol with our collective voices, our bodies and our power. Join us!

IF EVER THERE WERE A NEED TO SHOW UP IN PERSON, THIS IS IT! WE NEED AT LEAST 500 PEOPLE TO MAKE A FULL CIRCLE AROUND THE CAPITOL!

WHAT TO BRING:
Write a personal letter about how the ACA or Medicaid has impacted your life. Include your concerns about Trumpcare and backdoor dealings. Bring the letter to read out loud or simply hand it in for us to deliver to a senator staffer. You don’t have to speak if you don’t want to, supporting others is just as important. Bring your friends!!! Bring your children and babies!!!! Get the word out. We need BIG NUMBERS in attendance!! (Also, probably bring your bug spray.)

WHEN:
Thursday June 29th @ 7pm

WHERE:
Texas State Capitol
Meet at the South Steps

PARKING INFO:
Parking in the Capitol Visitors’ Garage is free for the 1st two hours (unless there is special event parking).

NEW CBO SCORE IS OUT AND WE WILL NOT STAND BY AND LET 22+ MILLION PEOPLE LOSE THEIR HEALTHCARE!! PLEASE, PLEASE JOIN US!

This action is co-hosted by Indivisibleatx, TX-10 Indivisible, Indivisible TX-17 Congressional District, TX21 Indivisible, Indivisible TX25E, Wilco Indivisible, TX35 Indivisible, Children’s Defense Fund-Texas, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, ADAPT of Texas, Young Invincibles and the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Facebook Event

So you’re meeting with a staffer. Now what?

During the Cornyn Stakeout last week, I, on impulse, walked into the Chase Bank Building, rode the elevator to the 15th floor, and knocked on the door to Cornyn’s office. Next thing I knew I was sitting face to face with a young staffer. Now what?

I had my talking points about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s–and especially John Cornyn’s–lackluster response to Russian election interference, but it seemed weird to launch into that. When there is a human being sitting a few feet away, the dynamic is very different compared to speaking on the phone or firing off angry tweets.

She may have been more nervous than I was. I’m a tall man in an Indivisible Austin t-shirt and for all she knows I am about to start shrieking at her, or worse. So I explained, calmly, that I was from Indivisible Austin, one of the organizers of the stakeout, and that we aren’t scary. I joked that most of the Indivisible activists look like our moms, and in fact, my mother is an Indivisible activist in rural Texas. (See, we’re not all Austin hippies, either.)

The staffer smiled, and let her guard down a bit. Sure, she was being paid to listen to my concerns, and we might disagree vigorously on many things; but it was clear that a human connection was forming.

I believe these human connections, seeking common ground, will save our Democracy.

Paraphrasing what I said:

On the AHCA

“Getting people to question facts is a hallmark of authoritarianism. When John Cornyn called CBO data ‘fake news,’ that sent a dangerous signal. The CBO score may not be perfect, but it’s the only data we have, and the Congressional Budget Office is as nonpartisan as it gets. For our Democracy to function, we need to have agreed-upon facts. If we can’t agree on facts, our Democracy dies.”

On withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord

“Sen. Cornyn signed a letter encouraging Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Cornyn and other Republicans like to point out that the treaty is not legally binding. But one thing we have learned from the Trump presidency is that norms and traditions uphold our Democracy far more than laws do. By withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, we send a message that we no longer take seriously the bonds, however symbolic, between the U.S. and our global allies. Additionally, climate change is a nonpartisan issue, affecting everyone. We can disagree about the means with which to solve the problem, but we first need to agree on the basic fact that it is happening.”

On Russian election interference

“The original purpose of the Cornyn Stakeout was to send a message to Sen. Cornyn that Americans take very seriously the issue of a foreign power interfering in our Democratic process. Sen. Cornyn’s seemingly flippant attitude toward his own committee’s investigation is inappropriate. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. If Russia, or any foreign power, is influencing our elections in any way, that is dangerous to both parties, and to our nation as a whole. We need Sen. Cornyn to take this issue more seriously.”

I spent 15 to 20 minutes sharing my concerns with the staffer, who was very professional and polite, and took notes that she said she would deliver to the senator. It is quite possible that she was seething inwardly, disagreeing with everything I said… but I don’t really think so. Human beings are social creatures and instinctively seek common ground. And it is much easier to find that common ground in person, than on social media or phone calls.

This summer we’ll be kicking off a series of “air-conditioned activism”* events, centered around meetings with congressional staffers. We’re planning a toolkit to make your meetings with staffers as effective as can be, and we would love to hear what has and has not worked for you. We would especially welcome feedback from staffers. Please email vp@indivisibleaustin.com or leave a comment here.


*Many thanks to the Indivisible TX-25 Eanes / West Austin group for coining the term “Air-Conditioned Activism.”

 

 

How to Tell Your Senators to Oppose Trumpcare (Without Accidentally Letting Them Off the Hook!)

Cross-posted, with permission, from Cover Texas Now

Over the next couple weeks, it’s critical that we continue to raise our voices about health care in phone calls and emails to our U.S. Senators, rallies in our communities, social media posts, letters to editor, and any other ways you can think of.

We also need to make sure our message doesn’t let them off the hook.

Many Senators are saying that they won’t support “the House bill.” They say they’re working on “improving” the bill

So if we just ask them to “oppose the House bill,” we run the risk of letting them off the hook.

That’s why we recommend delivering this message to our Senators:

Oppose ANY legislation that:

  • Causes millions of Americans to lose health coverage;
  • Slashes Medicaid for kids, seniors, pregnant women, and people with disabilities;
  • Guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions;
  • Cuts billions in health care funding to pay for billions in tax cuts to large corporations and wealthy individuals.

We also urge you to take a moment to explain why protecting health care is personally important to you.

Here are the phone numbers to contact our Senators:

Thank you for raising your voice!

Five questions to ask John Cornyn and Ted Cruz about the AHCA

From Indivisible Project’s “Defend the ACA and Medicaid”:

Since the fight to save the ACA is now in the Senate, the following question are for your two senators. Questions for your representative, see here.

  1. Republicans in the House sided with Trump over the wellbeing of their constituents when they voted to pass TrumpCare. They voted for it without a CBO score, meaning that they didn’t even know how much it would harm their constituents. We now have a CBO score and know that TrumpCare would kick 23 million people off of their health care. As your constituent, can you promise me that you:
    • “…won’t vote for a bill that would lead to millions of Americans losing their health coverage?”
    • “…won’t vote for a bill without first knowing its full implications from a CBO score?”
  2. I don’t believe that ensuring “access” to health care, which doesn’t take into account affordability or quality of care, is good enough. Can you guarantee that any replacement plan will cover AT LEAST as many people that would be covered under the ACA? Can you guarantee that no one will lose their coverage as a result of your vote?
  3. I [or someone I know] has “x” condition and I’m afraid that I [they] will be unable to obtain affordable health coverage because of my [their] pre-existing condition. I want to know if you can assure me that I’ll be able to get the same consumer protections as the ACA, including for a pre-existing condition?
  4. Thanks to the ACA, I was able to enroll in my state’s Medicaid program for the first time. I’m afraid that a replacement plan will end funding for state Medicaid expansions. Can you assure me that funding for Medicaid won’t get cut under ANY replacement plan?
  5. Currently, anyone who is eligible for Medicaid is able to get it. I’m one of those people. I’m afraid that I may lose my Medicaid coverage if the program is restructured. Can you also assure me that Medicaid will remain an entitlement, and that anyone eligible will be guaranteed coverage?

New Analysis of U.S. House Health Care Repeal Proves How Damaging it Would Be

By Stacey Pogue, Center for Public Policy Priorities, May 25, 2017

Today the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its “score” of the U.S. House-passed health care repeal bill. Earlier this month the House took the short-sighted and unusual step of voting to pass the “American Health Care Act” before the CBO scored it, and now we can see why. The score reveals terrible news that House members did not want to face as they rammed the health care repeal bill through.  The bill will cause millions of people to lose their health insurance coverage in order to pay for big tax breaks for wealthy individuals, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies.

The CBO is the non-partisan, official number cruncher for Congress. The “score” lets Congress and the public know both how much the bill will cost to the federal budget, and how many millions of people will lose health insurance coverage. Full analyses will take more time, but our initial analysis shows that compared to current law under the Affordable Care Act / ObamaCare:

  • In 2018, 14 million more Americans will be uninsured under the AHCA than would have been under the ACA, and by 2026 that number will grow to 23 million more uninsured. Of that 23 million:
  • 14 million Americans will lose coverage in Medicaid by 2026, due to deep cuts ($834 billion over ten years) to the program. In Texas, Medicaid pays for more than half of all births, covers more than 40 percent of all children, and pays for the care of two-thirds of people in nursing homes. The dramatic cuts to Medicaid will harm millions of low-income Texans and our health care system and put strains and local governments and taxpayers.
  • 9 million additional Americans will lose private health insurance by 2026, 6 million in the individual market and 3 million losing employer-sponsored coverage. The AHCA slashes subsidies, and out-of-pocket premiums increase for people who buy on their own insurance — especially for people age 50-64, people in rural areas, and people who are low-income. The bill would reduce funds for premium subsidies by $276 billion over 10 years.
  • $664 billion in tax cuts to wealthy individuals, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies paid for by huge cuts to the programs that keep insurance affordable for low- and moderate-income Americans: Medicaid and subsidies in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Now the U.S. Senate has taken up this bad bill. Small tweaks cannot solve all of the problems the AHCA creates. The Senate should scrap the AHCA and start over again with promises that:

  1. CBO Score: The Senate will not vote on a bill until the CBO has scored the version of the bill they are actually voting on;
  2. Coverage losses are unacceptable. At least as many people should have coverage under the AHCA as the ACA;
  3. Medicaid will be protected, not raided to pay for tax cuts; and
  4. Premiums and out-of-pocket costs will not be increased shifting the heaviest burdens to the lowest income, people in rural areas, people ages 50-65, and people with pre-existing conditions. Simply making bare-bones coverage cheap for people who are young and healthy, while raising costs and causing coverage losses or grossly inadequate benefits among all others is not a real—or acceptable— policy solution

How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: Payback Recess Success

Courtesy of 5 Minute Activism

John Cornyn wants to hear your Obamacare stories

From Sen. John Cornyn’s newsletter:

Health care affects each and every Texan’s life. As the United States Senate continues the process of replacing President Obama’s healthcare law, I want to hear about your experiences and how we can do better.

Texans across our state have told me that under Obamacare, they haven’t been able to keep their doctors, plans have disappeared, and high deductibles and double-digit premium hikes have made coverage unaffordable. 

But, I’d like to hear from you. Let me know how Obamacare has impacted your family, your loved ones, or your business by replying to this email. As Congress crafts a new health care law, I want to be sure your voice is included in the conversation.

You can send your stories to newsletter_@cornyn.senate.gov with the subject “Tell Me Your Obamacare Story”

Update to the Update:

May 11, 2017: A reliable source tells us that Cornyn’s office is seeing your ACA stories; they are just having trouble with the auto-responder. So keep emailing!

Update

Emails are bouncing back with this message:

This is the original email, which we pasted verbatim (including links):

It is unclear whether Cornyn’s office is actually receiving messages, and forgot to turn off their auto-responder, or whether your ACA stories are going into a black hole.

Please call, fax, and snail-mail your ACA stories to  Sen. Cornyn’s offices and ask why your email bounced back!

Washington, DC Office
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Main: 202-224-2934

Central Texas:
Chase Tower
221 West Sixth Street
Suite 1530
Austin, TX 78701
Main: 512-469-6034
Fax: 512-469-6020

East Texas:
Regions Bank Building
100 E. Ferguson Street, Suite 1004
Tyler, TX 75702
Main: 903-593-0902
Fax: 903-593-0920

North Texas:
5001 Spring Valley Road
Suite 1125 E
Dallas, TX 75244
Main: 972-239-1310
Fax: 972-239-2110

South Texas:
222 East Van Buren
Suite 404
Harlingen, TX 78550
Main: 956-423-0162
Fax: 956-423-0193

Southeast Texas:
5300 Memorial Drive Suite 980
Houston, TX 77007
Main: 713-572-3337
Fax: 713-572-3777

South Central Texas:
600 Navarro
Suite 210
San Antonio, TX 78205
Main: 210-224-7485
Fax: 210-224-8569

West Texas:
Wells Fargo Center
1500 Broadway, Suite 1230
Lubbock, TX 79401
Main: 806-472-7533
Fax: 806-472-7536