Affordable Care Act Action Plan

Save the ACA | February 10, 2017

Repealing the ACA would be devastating—not just for the millions who have gained access to affordable coverage through the exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid, but also for anyone—especially women, children, and seniors—who have benefited from the law’s consumer protections.

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For nearly seven years, Congressional Republicans have done everything they can to sabotage, discredit, defund, and dismantle the ACA. They have investigatedthe “failures” of the ACA sincetaking control of Congress in 2011, and have vowed to replace it with something better.  And yet they have nothing to show for their efforts.

We know that the law in fact is not a failure—the ACA is working. And repealing the ACA would be devastating—not just for the millions who have gained access to affordable coverage through the exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid, but also for anyone—especially women, children, and seniors—who have benefited from the law’s consumer protections.

Congress has already begun holding hearings to give the public the false impression that they’re listening to public “concerns.” This is a lie meant to distract from the terrifying truth: Republicans have no replacement plan and are still moving ahead with ACA repeal which would cause more than 30 million people to lose their health care coverage. It means going back to a time when insurance companies could deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions, or when an illness could bankrupt your family.

The fact is that American public supports the ACA and none of the Republican proposals come close to matching what the ACA has accomplished over the last several years.

Coverage v. Access

Republicans are trying to convince Americans that their replacement plan, which they say will guarantee “universal access” to health care, is as good as the ACA. This is a lie! Promising universal access provides no guarantee that families will be able to purchase insurance, even if it is technically available in some form. Your MoC should promise to preserve both access and coverage.

If Republicans cannot guarantee all of the following in their “replacement” bill, then it must be vigorously opposed:

  • Cover at least as many people as the ACA has (32 million), and further decrease the rate of people without health insurance in the United States (8.9 percent).
  • Ensure Medicaid remains a fully-funded state-federal partnership, which guarantees access to all eligible low-income families and people with disabilities.
  • Maintain the consumer protections in the ACA, including prohibitions against insurers from discriminating against the 133 million people with pre-existing conditions.

We know that what Republicans have proposed thus far won’t meet these criteria. Their blueprint would:

  • Lead to millions of Americans losing their health coverage
  • Decrease the quality of coverage by eliminating existing benefits
  • Increase premiums for people with pre-existing conditions
  • Shift costs to middle class families
  • End Medicaid as we know it and risk coverage for millions of low-income families and children

Take Action to Save the Affordable Care Act

Advocates need to be laying the groundwork for opposition on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act through the following actions:

Attend Your Elected Official’s Town Hall

  • Bring friends
  • Be polite but persistent
  • Ask a friend to record you
  • Share your own story
  • Use our talking points
  • Ask yes or no questions—if your elected official does not answer your question, stay put until they do. Make them get on the record for or against specific policies.
  • Remind them you will be watching and you will be voting
  • Reach out to local media using social media

Be Visible at Your Elected Official’s Public Event

  • Organize a group and make yourself visible and audible
  • Demand the elected official hold a town hall so your views can be heard
  • Be prepared to interrupt your elected official
  • Use our talking points
  • Share your own story
  • Speak to reporters who are there
  • Reach out to local media using social media

Visit Your Elected Official’s District Office

  • Bring friends
  • Politely insist on speaking with the member of Congress
  • Speak with staff if a member is unavailable
  • Use our talking points
  • Share your own story
  • Ask yes or no questions—if your elected official does not answer your question, stay put until they do. Make them get on the record for or against specific policies
  • Ask if the elected official will have a town hall or public event
  • If none is scheduled, ask why the MOC is not holding these events
  • Reach out to local media using social media

Phone the District Office

  • Ask if the elected official will have a town hall or public event
  • If none is scheduled, ask why the MOC is not holding these events
  • Ask to speak with the district director
  • Share your views on this issue. Note that district staff generally handle local constituent casework and not all caseworkers will be able to answer your questions (or want to!)
  • When making policy calls, it is most effective to reach out to your MOC’s staff in DC
  • Report back to your local group and media
  • Use social media about your contacts with staff

Phone the DC Office

  • Ask if the elected official will have a town hall or public event
  • If none is scheduled, ask why the MOC is not holding these events
  • Ask to speak with the health care staffer. Note they will likely prevent you from speaking with staff, and a staff assistant or or intern will take your call.
  • Share your views on this issue. Not all staffers will be able to answer your questions (or want to, or will be advised not to speak to the MOC’s views)
  • Insist on a written response
  • Report back to your local group and media
  • Use social media about your contacts with staff
  • Maintain a log of your contacts to DC staff

Town Hall/Office Visit Questions

ALWAYS try incorporating a personal story when communicating with your MoCs. Below are sample Yes and No questions for your MoCs:

  1. 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?
  2. 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 protects as the ACA, including for a pre-existing condition?
  3. 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?
  4. 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 to a block grant or a capped system. Can you also assure me that Medicaid will remain an entitlement, and that anyone eligible will be guaranteed coverage?
  5. For Democrats: I’m afraid that Republicans will try to force Democrats to negotiate on coverage and benefits in a replacement plan. Can you promise me that you won’t compromise on coverage and benefits for anyone currently eligible for the ACA?

SAMPLE CALL DIALOGUE

OPTION 1: ELECTED OFFICIAL SUPPORTS “REPEAL AND REPLACE”

Caller: Good morning/afternoon! Can you let me know the Congressman’s (Congresswoman’s) position on the Affordable Care Act?

Staffer: Thank you for calling! Congressperson Bob believes that the ACA needs to be repealed in order to provide  better coverage for all Americans. The Congressperson is committed to repealing the ACA as soon as possible and replacing it with another plan that is better for Americans.

Caller: That’s terrible. None of the replacement plans that I have seen are nearly as good as what we have now, and I am deeply concerned about his commitment to repeal. I’m calling to say that if Congressman Bob truly believes, as I do, that it can be challenging to access affordable healthcare in this country, he should work to build on the historic gains the Affordable Care Act has made in providing coverage and benefits for all Americans rather than dismantling our progress. If the ACA is repealed, 475,000 Oregonians stand to lose healthcare coverage and 1.7 million Oregonians with pre-existing conditions could be denied life-saving coverage including [myself, my spouse, my child]. I hope Congressman Bob reconsiders his commitment to repeal.

Staffer: But the ACA has been a disaster and heatlh care costs in this country are out of control. I bet your premiums went up this year!

Caller: Congress promised a meaningful replacement that will leave no one worse off and the President promised “insurance for everyone.” I know you told me the Congressman is working on a replacement package. A replacement needs to be judged against what the ACA had accomplished when the new Congress came into power and is only acceptable if it preserves the coverage gains and quality of care under the ACA. Can you guarantee that any replacement plan will cover AT LEAST as many people that would be covered under the ACA?

OPTION 2: ELECTED OFFICIAL ON RECORD DEFENDING THE ACA

Caller: Good morning/afternoon! Can you let me know the Congressman’s (Congresswoman’s) position on the Affordable Care Act?

Staffer: Thank you for calling! Congressperson Bob believes that the ACA is a historic piece of legislation that needs to be preserved and protected.

Caller: That’s great! I’m calling to say that if Congressman Bob truly believes, as I do, that it can be challenging to access affordable healthcare in this country, he should do everything he/she can to protect the historic gains of the Affordable Care Act. If the ACA is repealed, 475,000 Oregonians stand to lose healthcare coverage and 1.7 million Oregonians with pre-existing conditions could be denied life-saving coverage including [myself, my spouse, my child].

Will Congressman Bob do everything he can to stop the Trump Administration and the Congress from dismantling the ACA? Will the Congressman/woman stand firm against so-called  “replacement” packages that do not meet the standards for coverage, comprehensiveness, and protection that were in place prior to the seating of the current Congress?