Friday, June 23, 2017

Asian American senators blast GOP health plan, search for 3 GOP senators to vote conscience over tax breaks for the rich

Protestors blocked entry to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office after text of the GOP Senate health care bill was released Thursday. They were forcibly removed by capitol police.

SENATE REPUBLICANS today (June 22) unveiled their secret proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, AKA Trumpcare, and it ain't pretty.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act in a nutshell: Poor people will pay more for less health care. 

"The Senate Republican plan gives massive tax cuts to Trump’s billionaire friends while forcing millions of working Americans to pay more for less care," said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois.

The Senate version was done in secrecy by 13 male senators with no input from Democrats or women senators. Senate leader Mitch McConnell said he would try to pass it before the July 4 recess. In contrast, Obamacare was passed only after a year of hearings and Republican amendments.

"It also guts Medicaid funding that new mothers, children, seniors, Veterans and people with disabilities rely on to lead full, happy and healthy lives," stated the Thai/American senator. "Does the President—do Republicans—truly believe this is the ‘single greatest health care plan in the history of the world?’ The American people certainly know it isn’t.”

“Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford coverage. Particularly for people living with serious diseases, Trumpcare sends a clear message – you’re on your own,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. “Americans with pre-existing conditions would suffer under Trumpcare. That’s why we will do everything we can to fight this mean bill.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listed the disastrous impact of the proposed health plan. "This bill jeopardizes protections for those with health insurance through their job, putting nearly half of the country back at risk of going bankrupt if they get a serious illness or injury. It guts Medicaid, and threatens services for children with disabilities. It allows seniors to be charged more, making it harder to retire with dignity. It discriminates against survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. It limits access to tax credits for Californians to make health care more affordable. And Republicans passed this bill even while admitting they do not know how much it will cost, or how many tens of millions of Americans will lose coverage.

Although there are 52 Republican senators, It's not certain that Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnel has enough votes to pass the BCRA. The proposal needs 51 votes to pass but already some senators have expressed strong concerns about the bill. At least four senators representing the extreme right (Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin) said the proposal doesn't go far enough in dismantling the proposal. At least two GOP women senators (Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) have said they would not vote for a plan that would defund Planned Parenthood.

Two Republican defectors would end up in a tie setting up the scenario where Vice President Mike Pence would cast the deciding vote. One guess which way he would vote.

Assuming Collins and Murkowski vote against the BCRA, there is need for one more brave Republican to break from party ranks. Is there one more GOP senator who would vote in favor of the people and not for tax breaks for the 1% and profit for Big Pharma and the healthcare insurance business? Just one more who will put country before party? Just one?

“This bill is not just about medicine or math— this is about morals," continued Indian/American lawmaker Harris. "Americans are counting on us to make their health care more affordable and accessible."

Sen. Brian Schatz (below) gave a convincing speech against the GOP proposal. He represents Hawaii, the state with the highest percentage of AAPI residents in the U.S.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Earlier versions of this post did not include comments from Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii.
There will be more updates as we further study the GOP proposal. We'll give the last word to former President Obama, who continues to be the object of senseless hatred from the far right, whose name is attached to his signature piece of legislation -- Obamacare. One of Obama's flaws was his willingness to bend over backwards to appease conservatives. 
"I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.
We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain — we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course."

"[I]t remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible — if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family."