Demand Full Transparency in the Latest Affordable Care Act Repeal Efforts

House Republicans are planning to ram through an Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill that will jeopardize the health care coverage of millions of Americans. They shared a draft of their bill with only 40 hours for the public and even other Members of Congress (MoCs) to review. Republicans are also rushing to approve the bill without releasing a formal cost estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which analyzes how much federal legislation will cost or save American taxpayers—known as a “score” (see our CBO explainer for more information on scoring). Americans deserve an open and honest debate for more than two days about a bill that will cause millions of people to lose health insurance coverage.

Votes on the GOP plan in two key committees are planned for March 8 at 10:30am EST without a cost estimate. Supporters of the bill want to get it through the House before they head home for the next Recess (April 8-23). They do not want to face you at town halls and other events in their districts and have to answer questions about their plans for to replace the ACA. Call your representative in the House between now and Wednesday, March 8 and tell them to oppose any congressional action on the proposed ACA repeal bill without a transparent, thoughtful process, including a public CBO score. The American public deserves to know the effects of a bill of this magnitude.

And, if the bill does not preserve the core values of the ACA—like robust and affordable healthcare options for all Americans covered under the ACA—tell your representative to oppose repeal.

Sample Call Dialogue

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

OPTION 1: SUPPORTS “REPEAL AND REPLACE”

  • Staffer: Thank you for calling! Congressman Bob believes that the ACA needs to be repealed in order to provide better coverage for all Americans. The Congressman 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. No one had even seen this “plan” being pushed through the legislative process until 40 hours before it was going to be voted on in committee! How can you tell me it is better than the ACA if no one has had meaningful time to evaluate its impacts? There has not even been a public score by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) so how can Congressman Bob assess its impact on the economy or on the future cost of my health insurance?

    I want Congressman Bob to know that I think the rushed and secretive way in which the House Republicans are proceeding is irresponsible. As your constituent, I deserve to know about the potential impacts of a bill of this magnitude and so do all Americans. Any ACA repeal bill needs to be made available for us, external experts, and other MoCs to read and thoughtfully consider for more than 40 hours.

    Staffer: The ACA was drafted behind closed doors and passed in secret. House Republican leadership is not acting any differently than leadership at that time.

    Caller: That is not true. The ACA had a historic number of hours of debate and amendments during Committee development of the legislations. Specifically, the House held 79 public hearings on the health reform bill over the period of an entire year. House members spent nearly 100 hours in hearings, heard from 181 witnesses from both sides of the aisle, and considered 239 amendments from both Democratic and Republican MoCs.

    I want Congressman Bob to commit to a deliberate and transparent process for any potential Obamacare replacement bill. This includes having public hearings on options besides full repeal and allowing MoCs, the public, and nonpartisan agencies like the CBO to review this bill and any others that are proposed and allow enough time for congressional debate.

    Will Congressman Bob commit, publicly, to opposing any congressional action on ANY ACA repeal bill without a deliberate and transparent process, including a public CBO score?

    Staffer: I will certainly pass on your concerns to the Congressman.

    Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information to let me know when the Congressman has made up his mind. I’m eager to hear what he decides.

OPTION 2: SUPPORTS “REPEAL AND REPLACE” AND DODGES QUESTIONS ON CBO

  • 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 Congressman 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. No one had even seen this “plan” being pushed through the legislative process until 40 hours before it was going to be voted on in committee! How can you tell me it is better than the ACA if no one has had meaningful time to evaluate its impacts? There has not even been a public score by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) so how can Congressman Bob assess its impact on the economy or on the future cost of my health insurance?

    I want Congressman Bob to know that I think the rushed and secretive way in which the House Republicans are proceeding is irresponsible. As your constituent, I deserve to know about the potential impacts of a bill of this magnitude and so do all Americans. Any ACA repeal bill needs to be made available for us, external experts, and other MoCs to read and thoughtfully consider for more than 40 hours.

    Staffer: We have a CBO score; we will release it once the bill comes out of committee. The ACA was drafted behind closed doors and passed in secret. House Republican leadership is not acting any differently than leadership at that time.

    Caller: That is not true. The financing of the ACA's coverage provisions was well known and debated. The CBO issued many reports on the Affordable Care Act's cost and how it would impact Americans, including on how the individual mandate would ensure that Obamacare would be sustainable and paid for.

    I want Congressman Bob to guarantee that any replacement plan will cover at LEAST as many people that would be covered under the ACA and that we understand the financial impact of these plans and any new plans. You cannot do that unless the bill has been analyzed by CBO.

    Will Congressman Bob commit, to opposing any congressional action on these plans and ANY ACA repeal bill without releasing a CBO score publicly?

    Staffer: I will certainly pass on your concerns to the Congressman.

    Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information to let me know when the Congressman has made up his mind. I’m eager to hear what he decides.

OPTION 3: ON RECORD DEFENDING THE ACA

  • 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 can to protect the historic gains of the Affordable Care Act. This includes doing everything in his power to prevent House Republicans from moving forward with an ACA repeal and replace bill that was released only 40 hours before committee votes and has not been publicly scored by CBO. This lack of transparency and time for debate and the unknown impact on our economy is unacceptable.

    Will Congressman Bob do everything he can to stop the Trump Administration and the Congress from dismantling the ACA? Will you commit, publicly, to opposing any congressional action on ANY ACA repeal bill without a transparent and deliberative process, including a public CBO score?

    Staffer: Yes, Congressman Bob is proud of his work ensuring that Americans can access and afford the healthcare they need. He’ll do whatever he can to ensure transparency in the Congressional process and to prevent further action on any ACA bill without a public CBO score.

    Caller: Wonderful. This is extremely important to me and I will be watching closely. Thank you for your time.