“Obamacare was the best thing to happen to me”

The July recess has been tough on Republican senators. CNN reports today: Recess isn’t helping McConnell’s hunt for 50 votes. It started with this reception at the airport as they left for recess:

In Pennsylvania, demonstrators gathered outside of Sen. Pat Toomey’s office, lying on the sidewalk holding signs in the shape of tombstones.

In Maine, Sen. Susan Collins said healthcare was THE issue at her 4th of July parade. “I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House healthcare bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. ‘Thank you, Susan!’ ‘Stay strong, Susan!’ ”

At a town hall meeting in Louisiana, Sen. Bill Cassidy had his planned topic derailed by people voicing their angst over healthcare. Several people described the GOP proposal as an effort to give large tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of poor people’s coverage.

On their Facebook page, the Indiana Republican party asked for Obamacare “horror stories,” such as “losing a doctor that you liked” or “having your premiums increased.” (Losing a doctor that you liked is a “horror story” compared to having your health insurance ripped away? Really? And it was Obamacare that caused premiums to increase? Really?) At any rate, over 10,000 people have given input so far, a massive number of them stories like these:

While this news is encouraging, we’ve heard stories of backroom deals to appease holdout GOP Senators on selective issues like opioid addiction, and that a new CBO report has been ordered. We will continue to keep a watchful eye on healthcare and do everything we can to protect it.

In the meantime, while we wait for more news on the GOP “Take Away Our Healthcare” bill, we’re proposing some actions (below) on other important issues.

Stand Up SF actions:

Following Trump’s executive order to open the Atlantic to offshore drilling, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is set to permit oil companies to begin seismic airgun blasting to find new oil wells. This involves deafening blasts every 10-12 seconds for months on end, and devastates marine life. Department of the Interior environmental studies estimate that seismic proposals now under review would cause more than 31 million instances of harm to marine mammals in the Gulf and 13.5 million harmful interactions with marine mammals in the Atlantic, killing or injuring 138,000 dolphins and whales. Call and ask Congresswoman Pelosi to 1. Join the 103 House reps who sent Interior Secretary Zinke a letter asking him to halt the blasting, and 2. To support the Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act in the House.

Call and ask Senators Feinstein and Harris to support the same bill in the Senate.

Make a public comment on it by July 21, telling the National Marine Fisheries Service that our oceans are already showing the stress of climate change, and it doesn’t make sense to harm whales, dolphins and other ocean wildlife in order to drill for more oil we can’t afford to burn. Deny any new seismic permits.

Actions with other groups:

Mon July 10, 6:30-8:30 in the Mission: SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) General Meeting. SURJ works to dismantle racism within ourselves, in our communities, and in our city. Sign up here.

Thanks for all you do.

Losing our healthcare: It’s not over

On Sunday we got the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the Senate “Take Away Our Healthcare” bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, and it shows how cruel and immoral the bill is (details below). There is nothing in the bill that gives better care.

The Senate then delayed its vote. Our pressure is working. But it’s not over til it’s over. We saw the House bill die only to be resurrected and pass. So we’ve seen this movie before.

Quotes from Senator Feinstein on Senate Health Care Bill: 'the most indefensible bill I've actually seen in 24 years in the Senate...No amount of tinkering will change the fact that this bill would devastate health care in America, and we can't let that happen.'

On Tuesday, 10 members of Stand Up SF discussed what can be done to block the Senate bill with Sean Elsbernd, Senator Feinstein’s State Director. Some of the suggestions below come from this meeting. Read the Action Report to learn all that was discussed.

While the Republican Senators are facing their constituents back home next week, what else can we do to ensure this bill dies a full death?

#1. Keep telling your ACA stories. How did the ACA help you? How will the current Senate bill hurt you or those you love?

Email your personal stories to Congresswoman Pelosi’s senior congressional aide: Alex.Lazar@mail.house.gov.

Submit your story to Senator Feinstein.

Submit your story to Senator Harris.

Keep submitting your personal stories to be read and voted on as bill amendments on the Senate floor.

Search Twitter for #HowTheACASavedMyLife to see how it helped others. Tweet your own 140-character story using the hashtag.

#2. Make sure your friends, family and colleagues know how the bill will affect them.

#3. Educate connections in other states, not only on the bill but on the need to call their Senators. Remember that polls showed a high % of the people with negative views of Obamacare had positive views of the Affordable Care Act. Eight years of misinformation campaigns have left people confused. Let’s educate them wherever we can. (hint: call it The Affordable Care Act)

#4. If you know any hospital representatives, encourage them to speak out on behalf of their hospital. Hospitals would face billions more in uncompensated care next year alone. Some would not survive.

#5. Consider phone banking into a red district, educating residents and encouraging them to take action (with Democracy Action).

#6. Consider a quick donation to one of the organizations running ads against the Senate bill in red states.

Here is how the Senate Health Care bill will affect all of us:

  • If you are nearing retirement, you will likely see your premiums and out-of-pocket costs shoot up. In 2026, a 64-yr-old making $56,800 would see their premiums TRIPLE.
  • If you have a pre-existing condition, good luck. Your state can let insurers drop your pre-existing condition from the coverage they offer you.
  • If you get sick with an expensive condition, too bad. Annual and lifetime caps are back. Hit your lifetime cap and your insurance ends forever.
  • If you count on that out-of-pocket max, not so fast. It only applies to “essential health benefits,” which states can now let insurers define. Nearly half of all Americans could be affected by cutbacks in “essential benefits.”
  • Know someone with low income? They also get less insurance at a higher cost. Subsidies are substantially smaller. According to the CBO, in 2020 premiums and deductibles would be so onerous that “few low-income people would purchase any plan.”
  • The most vulnerable among us will be hurt by a $772M cut to Medicaid. 60% of long-stay nursing home residents are on Medicaid. 39% of US children are on Medicaid.
  • 15M more people would be uninsured next year, 22M more by 2026.

Local Stand Up SF action:

The State Assembly could vote on the future of climate action in California this week – and the vote is close. AB 378 would extend California’s landmark cap-and-trade law, which sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and requires companies to pay for their pollution. Call assemblymembers Phil Ting and David Chiu and tell them to vote YES on AB 378 to continue California’s climate leadership. (Background)

Actions with other groups:

A fun way to support a good cause:
July 4, 2pm Dolores Park (free): Come see SF Mime Troupe perform WALLS, which asks the question: How can a nation of immigrants declare war on immigration? The answer: FEAR!

Thanks for all you do.

Down to the wire

It’s crunch time. The GOP is going to try to ram TrumpCare down our throats this week, before Congress departs for the July recess. We need anything and everything you can give right now to prevent millions of us from losing health care — let’s face it, to prevent millions of us from dying preventable deaths.

At our meeting yesterday, we focused on health care at both the national and local level, and we learned that the majority of you have already taken action on this issue. It’s great to see how engaged you all are! But we are going to need more from you if we’re going to win this fight.

On Tuesday, our delegation will demand that Senator Feinstein break with her historical anti-obstruction stance and withhold consent on all senate business until there are adequate public hearings on the TrumpCare bill. There’s still room for one more Stand Up SF member at this action, so please join us.

Yesterday we also talked about the attempt to lay the blame for recent special election losses at Nancy Pelosi’s feet. It’s not surprising that the GOP would demonize Congresswoman Pelosi (after all, Obama and Clinton aren’t around anymore), but it’s kind of horrifying to see the progressive left throwing her under the bus as well. We know that it’s Pelosi’s sterling record on health care, effective leadership, and progressive “San Francisco values” that make her a GOP target. We love those values! It doesn’t make sense for Democrats to attack one of our own right now, particularly not someone who is consistently going to bat for us. As one of our members said yesterday, “I don’t think we should let the Republicans choose our leaders.”

So when we go to Congresswoman Pelosi’s office next week, she’ll hear a strong message of support from us. If you value what she’s done for us in the resistance, or have questions about her next steps as minority leader, please register for this action.

This week’s Stand Up SF actions

  • Stop TrumpCare: Call both Senators and ask them to withhold consent on all senate business until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. (script)
  • Stop TrumpCare #2: Call both Senators and ask them to present as many amendments to the bill as possible, until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. (script)
  • Stop TrumpCare #3: Submit your own amendment! IndivisibleGuide is collecting amendments and submitting them directly to Senate staff. Tell your story about how the bill will hurt you. Ask that it be changed so it does not hurt you. This will be read on the Senate floor, and will make it more politically painful for Republicans to move forward. Remember, even if you have insurance through your employer, TrumpCare will negatively affect you.
  • Fight for single payer in California: Unfortunately, Speaker Rendon has stalled SB 562, the Healthy California Act, in spite of the robust study that was done to analyze its financial impact. Call Speaker Rendon at 916-319-2063, or email him and let him know what you think. Please also call Assembly members Ting and Chiu. You can say “I am a Californian and I strongly support S.B. 562, the Healthy California Act, because every Californian deserves guaranteed healthcare. Speaker Rendon must move SB 562 forward as the best solution to the federal attacks on our healthcare. No other solution saves billions and covers everyone with medical, dental, vision, mental health and more.”

Actions with other groups

Learning opportunities

  • Tue 6/27: Webinar: Learn the basics of a Medicare-for-all single payer type system, special features of SB 562, and an economic analysis of the program conducted by outside experts. Register here
  • Mon 6/26: National Immigration Law Center hosts a webinar on current court cases and policies impacting immigrants. RSVP

All hands to save the ACA

This morning, after weeks of total secrecy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the Senate TrumpCare bill. And what a cruel, ugly bill it is.

It destroys Medicaid, it increases health costs for middle-class families, it cuts coverage for pre-existing conditions, it eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood…and it does this all in order to green-light a massive tax cut for millionaires and billionaires. And, according to IndivisibleGuide, it will likely get worse once it gets to the Senate floor. This is how they believe the TrumpCare fight will play out:

  • Tomorrow we’ll get a score (report) from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which will quantify exactly how many millions of Americans will be screwed by this bill and in what ways.
  • On Mon or Tues, Republicans will start debate on “the bill,” which is just a draft bill intended to make it look like they’re being transparent but in reality is a trick to hide their finished product which is worse.
  • Over the next couple days, Senators will submit amendments, most of which will fail and none of which would make this bill redeemable.
  • On Thurs, the Senate will plan to vote on the legislation, but first they will vote on all submitted amendments (known as “vote-a-rama”). We play a role here.
  • At the last possible minute, Republicans will replace the entire bill they just got finished “debating” with an alternative bill secretly crafted behind closed doors.
  • By the end of Thurs, there could be a final vote in the Senate.
  • The House may then pass the legislation and send it to Trump to sign. It is possible this could happen the same day.
  • Next weekend, one week of congressional recess begins. They’ll either have the bill done by then, or they’ll have to wait another week. Throughout this process there will be precisely zero public hearings in the Senate. This is a historically partisan, secretive, and undemocratic process for one of the most consequential pieces of legislation of our generation.

The press can’t cover the TrumpCare fight since it is taking place in private, so fewer people know about it.

That means there’s less public pressure on Congress, and it’s easier for Senate Republicans to move forward. If we drag this TrumpCare bill out into the light, it will raise alarms.

Here is an anti-TrumpCare ad that we hope will help with this.

Let’s keep up the fight! We need to call our Senators again. Don’t be sheepish! Many Indivisible groups are calling their Senators every day!

Stand Up SF actions:

Call both Senators and ask them to present hundreds or even thousands of amendments to the bill, and keep the amendments coming until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. (more info)

Call both Senators and ask them to withhold consent on all senate business until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. This will slow Senate business down to a crawl. This is the idea. (more info)

Submit an amendment. IndivisibleGuide is collecting amendments and submitting them directly to Senate staff. Tell your story about how the bill will hurt you. Ask that it be changed so it does not hurt you. This will be read on the Senate floor, and will make it more politically painful for Republicans to move forward.

Thanks for all you do.

2 weeks to save our healthcare

Well, we certainly had another action-packed week. Just this past week we:

  • Watched the highest law enforcement officer in our nation refuse to tell us what our president said to him.
  • Learned that Russia hacked far more voting systems than we thought
  • Saw the RNC’s response to a foreign power meddling in our election was to release speaking points that instruct GOP congress members to say, effectively, “this investigation has gone on long enough.”
  • Learned that 70% of Trump real estate deals in the past 12 months have gone to secret buyers, vs. 4% in the two years prior to that.
  • Saw that the number of ethics waivers Trump has written is excessive compared to past presidents, and the powers granted are broader.
  • Learned that Pence has hired a lawyer, and Trump’s lawyer has hired his own lawyer! (Hilariously, in the words of one journalist: “Trump is the Typhoid Mary of treason.”)

I was somewhat comforted to see that our system jumped in with some checks on the insanity. This also happened just last week:

  • The FBI investigation expanded to look at obstruction of justice
  • Attorneys general for DC and Maryland filed suit against Trump, for accepting millions from foreign governments, violating anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution. A first.
  • 196 congressional Democrats filed a lawsuit against Trump for accepting foreign emoluments.
  • The court ruled against the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying the Army Corps of Engineers failed to perform an adequate study of the pipeline’s environmental impact, particularly the impact of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, and environmental justice.

In the meantime, the most critical item facing us RIGHT NOW is the Senate’s ploy to repeal the ACA in secret before the July 4th recess. Not even our Secretary of Health and Human Services knows what’s in the senate bill.

The good news is IndivisibleGuide last week came up with two ways our Democratic senators can fight the bill.

Both are designed to slow things down so the bill can come out into the light of day, giving time for the press to report on it, and for constituents to learn and respond to what is in it:

  • Filibuster by amendment. Republicans are using a special process called “reconciliation” so they can pass the bill with fewer votes, but the trade-off is they have to allow an unlimited number of amendments. Our Senators can file as many amendments as they want and then call them up for a vote. This takes time. We want to ask our senators to plan thousands of amendments and keep them going until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. (more info)
  • Withhold consent on all senate business. The rules of the Senate are so complicated that Senators have to regularly consent to waiving some of them so that they can actually get work done. Our Senators can slow the Senate down to a crawl by withholding consent on legislative business until there are adequate public hearings on the bill. (more info)

On Thursday a group from Stand Up SF brought up the filibuster by amendment tactic with Senator Harris’ Director of Constituent Services, Daniel Chen. Daniel was not familiar with the tactic but thought it was an interesting strategy. He promised to look into it. Now is the time for us to follow up with more calls requesting it. Read the Action Report to learn what was discussed in the meeting.

Stand Up SF actions:

Call and ask Senators Harris and Feinstein to withhold consent on ALL Senate business until we have public hearings and a complete CBO score for the senate’s health care bill.

Call and ask Senators Harris and Feinstein to prepare hundreds or thousands of amendments to the the health care bill and keep them going until we have adequate public hearings.

Thanks for all you do.