I Call My Senators and Ask Them Not to Kill People

In a perfect world, I would spend my evenings live-tweeting Ghost Adventures or down the rabbit hole of a book or cursing as I write. But America is far from perfect right now. The country is a raging dumpster fire.

So instead of devoting all my time to doing those fun things, I spend my time calling my senators and my representative with the goal of convincing them not to pour gasoline on the fire. And while there are multiple things on fire, the one burning brightest right now is the Senate Republicans’ healthcare bill, the BCRA.

The BCRA is the work of thirteen Senate Republicans who spent about a month writing the bill in secrecy after the House of Representatives passed the AHCA in May. Republicans finally released the text of the bill last week, and it’s absolutely not in the best interest of the American people.

You may think that I’m being dramatic or exaggerating. Or you may think that whatever this bill is, it must be better than Obamacare.

Here’s the thing: Obamacare isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction towards making healthcare accessible for all Americans.

I can hear the protests already: Maybe those Americans get insurance through Obamacare should go get a job. I’m going to let you in on a secret. Lots of people on Obamacare have jobs. They’re small business owners, freelancers, full time employees at companies that don’t offer health insurance, part-time employees who work multiple jobs. There’s also the fact that Obamacare includes a Medicare expansion that provides for people who are disabled and can’t work, for children, and for the elderly.

Well, the insurance plans offered through Obamacare are expensive.  

That is an excellent point. Health insurance through the Marketplace is expensive and the plans aren’t all that great. Part of that is due to Obamacare being imperfect and partly due to political maneuvering on the federal level. But things would get a whole lot worse under the BCRA.

The BCRA phases out subsidies that help those who’re insured through the marketplace with paying out-of-pocket costs. So by 2019, low-income individuals will face the challenge of covering the cost of high deductibles. It also changes the tax credits for premiums, allotting less funds for those in need of help paying their premium.

Should health insurance be so expensive that people can’t pay their monthly premiums or their deductible without help? Absolutely not. But does it make sense to go backwards, to a place where people can’t afford health insurance? Nope.

We should trust the Republicans in the Senate. They work for us, and they’ve got our best interest in mind. 

I disagree. The BCRA does a couple of things that have the potential to curtail coverage for a significant number of Americans.  Under Obamacare, insurance companies must provide essential health benefits like maternity care and mental health services. They also cannot put annual or lifetime caps on coverage.

While the BCRA technically keeps those restrictions in place, it allows states to waive those rules in their own insurance markets. So a state may decide to waive the rule requiring insurance companies to cover essential health benefits such as addiction treatment or prescription drugs or maternity care. Or they may decide to allow insurance companies to put an annual or lifetime cap on coverage.

Do you have an illness like diabetes? What about depression or anxiety? Do you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol? If your state issues a waiver to insurance companies, the cost of your treatment might run higher than the cap your insurance company has on said treatment. What happens then? You either cough up the cash to pay for it yourself or you go without.

But I have insurance through my/my spouse’s employer. Those things won’t affect me.

Here’s the thing. They could. The BCRA will also eliminate the requirement for large companies to offer affordable health insurance to their employees. So it’s entirely possible that your employer or your spouses’s employer might decide that it’s more cost-effective to offer employees another health plan that’s not as affordable.

There’s also the question of the unforeseeable. What if you lose your job? Then you’ll have to decide between signing up for insurance through the marketplace or go without until you get another job. Just be careful about how long that takes because the BCRA would institute a six month hold on being able to sign up for coverage for someone who has been without coverage for more than 63 days.

We all deserve affordable healthcare. We deserve to sleep at night instead of lying awake and trying to figure out how to pay the next medical bill. We deserve a world where we don’t have to make the choice between paying for prescriptions and paying rent. We deserve not to go bankrupt because shit happened.

Instead of commenting on this post, please do a bit of research into the BCRA. Check out the CBO’s analysis of the bill, and check out which organizations oppose the bill. Or check out this New York Times article on the differences on the BCRA and Obamacare.

(Want to call your senators and representatives but don’t know where to start? Check out 5Calls.org .)

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