AFL-CIO launches big phone campaign vs. Senate GOP’s stealth health bill
Trump and McConnell shake hands at the White House. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

WASHINGTON –  The AFL-CIO is launching a massive telephone campaign, urging unionists and their allies to call their senators and demand they oppose the stealth health care bill the lawmakers are working on.

“There are reports that Republican leadership in the Senate is moving behind the scenes to finalize a bill and hold a floor vote on Trumpcare before members of Congress leave for the July 4 recess,” the fed’s statement says. The recess is scheduled to start July 1.

“The legislation has been fast-tracked, meaning it won’t get the usual committee review before going to a floor vote. This would greatly shorten the time the public—and members of Congress—have to read the legislation to determine exactly what it does and how many Americans it harms.

“These secret negotiations could strip health care from millions of Americans, just to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. Taking away the freedoms of working people in order to serve the wealthiest 1 percent isn’t the path forward that the United States needs.”

The statement ends by telling people to call “1-888-865-8089 and tell your senator to oppose Trumpcare legislation negotiated in secret that strips health care from working people.”

The alarm bells are justified. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., delegated drafting of the Senate’s health care bill to a 14-male-senator task force which meets in secret. Other than its plan to reverse Medicaid’s expansion over the next several years, little has leaked out.

But any GOP health care law would repeal the 7-year-old Affordable Care Act – a measure adopted after years of hearings, debates and negotiations, much of it out in the open. That repeal would void ACA’s extensions of coverage and its ban on discriminating against women, among other benefits. The GOP says its bill would replace the ACA; foes doubt that.

And McConnell wants the Senate health care bill to be debated under special “reconciliation” rules that bar a Democratic filibuster, with only a majority vote for passage. The rules are supposed to apply only to budget legislation, such tax bills and spending cuts.

The House version of the bill, the American Health Care Act, drew labor’s ire. It barely passed, 217-213, due its huge tax cut for the rich, financed by health care cuts that throw 23 million people off insurance and hugely raise premiums and co-pays – or make it unaffordable—for millions more. All 193 voting House Democrats, and 20 GOPers, opposed AHCA.

GOP President Donald Trump is pushing the process along after actively lobbying for the draconian House AHCA. Now he’s telling senators to modify it, thus presumably making it more palatable despite the millions of people it would hurt. Trump now calls the House AHCA “mean.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C.

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