Daily Engagement: Defend Planned Parenthood and the Poor Against the American Health Care Act

Daily Engagement is a new, brief, daily feature on Flavorwire. It’s aimed at helping people feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s been doling out daily affronts to human decency.

Every day, we’ll post one easy thing that people can do to continue to resist the current state of politics under the Trump administration, focusing on the creative ways (we are a culture website after all) that citizens are finding to resist.

What’s the issue?

The long-awaited Trumpcare (aka the House GOP’s American Health Care Act) is here to save us from that Evil Affordable Care we were getting. (Note we’re going from “Affordable Care Act” to “American Health Care Act”; who cares what health care costs you, so long as it’s superficially patriotic?!) Paul Ryan has finally made manifest the heretofore chimeric “plan” that Republicans promised as a replacement for Barack Obama’s medical care legislation, which they all loved to hate so much. Though Trump made absurd promises like essentially (and perhaps just totally accidentally) saying, against all Trumpian logic, that he’d institute something along the lines of actual universal health care, the whole “everybody’s got to be covered…the government’s gonna pay for it” thing doesn’t really hold up to what Ryan’s just introduced. [Well, I’m shocked – Profoundly Non-Shocked Ed.]

There are positive some aspects of ACA that the new legislation keeps intact: it maintains provisions that prevent insurance companies from withholding coverage from people with preexisting conditions; and under the new Act, people up to 26 years old can stay on their parents’ insurance plans. And, like the ACA, tax credits are involved — but unfortunately these are based on age, unlike the former Act’s credits, which were based on on income. (“Since the tax credits for premiums aren’t big enough to begin with, $2,000-$4,000 just isn’t enough money to buy decent health insurance for a year, people at the low end will find it unaffordable and drop out,” writes David Dayen in The Nation.)

Some ultra-conservative Republicans, as the Atlantic points out, have accused the new Act of just being “Obamacare Lite.” But the thing is it’s not quite so innocuous. There are a variety of objectionable things about the new bill — it contains a panoply of methods for disadvantaging the already-disadvantaged, particularly women and the poor. Democratic Representative Keith Ellison summed it up in a Tweet:

The funding for the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid will be rolled back by 2020, with states losing the ability to enroll “expansion adults” therein — a factor that could lead Medicaid to shed “millions of people over time,” per The Nation. Wealthier individuals will be given subsidies, tax credits, and tax cuts (including a break for insurance CEOs who make over $500,000). Rolling Stone piece explains how the new Act will also have a negative impact on the population — working class white people, basically — who put their misplaced trust in Donald Trump. And of course, it was older voters who were vastly more pro-Trump — and the elderly will likewise suffer under this new act, as its tax breaks for the rich will strip the Medicare Trust Fund (“the Medicare Trust Fund would go broke about four years earlier than currently projected, in 2025 instead of 2029. This would either force hospitals to either swallow the costs themselves, turn away Medicare enrollees, or both,” according to Vox.)

Particularly egregiously, Republicans like Ryan finally get their chance to defund the likes of Planned Parenthood (any organization providing abortions) by refusing it its main financial source for a year. According to Vogue:

Of the estimated $500 million in federal funding Planned Parenthood Federation of America receives annually, the bulk comes in the form of Medicaid and Title X reimbursements, not from a giant pile of money congressional Republicans seem to think is reserved for the organization.

Erin Gloria Ryan notes in the Daily Beast that its defunding of “all providers that deal mainly in reproductive health for one year… amounts to a sly backdoor Planned Parenthood repeal achieved without even namechecking the organization.”

What can you do?

The Atlantic notes that “the whole bill has yet to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office, a critical step that will determine both the number of people projected to gain or lose coverage under the law, and the amount of spending or saving it would incur.” Which means that if there’s any aspect (or many aspects) of this massive act that you particularly oppose, now would be a great time to call your Representatives and Senators. Unlike Trump’s executive actions, this is something that now has to be overseen and approved by hundreds of individuals in order to go into action — and the more vocal people are, the more likely it is people will be able to force revisions onto the legislation.

The legislation is being worked on with Ryan’s oversight by the House Ways and Means committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and 5calls has a script with which you can call both groups to object to the Act’s favoring of the wealthy.

Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, has published an email you can send to Congress Members to vehemently oppose the act’s defunding plan. They’ve also provided a list of the 5 best ways to help Planned Parenthood — the first of which is signing that petition, and the second is calling your representatives in Congress. Both are extremely easy — far easier than being healthy in America, it seems.