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Senate Votes to Open Debate on Unknown Health Care Legislation; Western Center Calls for Greater Transparency, Public Hearings, and a Bipartisan Approach

This afternoon, Senate Republicans – goaded by the President on Monday to “keep their promise” to repeal the Affordable Care Act – voted to open debate on repealing and replacing the ACA, despite not knowing which of the multiple Republican bills will be up for discussion or the possible amendments to be considered.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s push for today’s procedural vote is an affront to Senate norms and democracy as there have still been no open hearings or opportunity for bipartisan input on any of the bills.

Today’s vote paves the way for an unprecedented, secretive process where Senators will have only 20 hours of debate to decide the future of our health care system.  But no one knows which of the three bills currently in Congress the Senators will consider: the AHCA bill passed by House Republicans in May; the Senate’s repeal and replace BCRA, which failed earlier this month to muster enough votes for passage; the Senate’s most recent repeal-only Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA); or if the Senate will consider a possible fourth legislative option currently referred to as a “skinny repeal” that would repeal the individual mandate and other specific aspects of the ACA.

Any of these options is unworkable.  Each bill promises to decimate Medicaid funding, which would devastate Medi-Cal and the California state budget.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has already determined the Republican bills would take away health coverage for tens of millions of Americans.  All of the Republican’s proposed legislation roll back the Medicaid expansion that extends coverage to non-disabled adults, and change Medicaid funding to the detriment of the children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and older adults who depend on Medicaid to see their doctors and receive needed care.  Western Center calls on the Senate to stop working behind closed doors and instead hold public hearings and work in a bipartisan manner to improve the ACA, not destroy it.

The public, insurers, providers, and community groups stand united in opposition to the current efforts to repeal the ACA.  We commend Republican Senators Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska for doing right by their constituents and voting “no” today, and we implore the other Republican Senators and Representatives to consider the lives and health of their constituents and vote NO on any repeal or replacement of the ACA that would take away or worsen the care that Americans have now.

Call Congress at (202) 224-3121 to urge your representative to support the ACA and reject any efforts to gut our healthcare coverage.

For more information regarding Western Center’s position on today’s vote in the Senate, please contact Cori Racela at (213) 235-2637 or cracela@wclp.org.