Thursday, January 26, 2017

January 2017: The ACA Repeal Misinformation

All month I've seen alarming posts bouncing around between fellow liberals/progressives/leftists about the GOP's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This often takes the form of copied-and-pasted posts divorced of any context like the date or particular congressional action.

Here's the short version: in early January 2017, the US Senate held a procedural vote to open debate on a bill that would repeal the ACA. A couple days later, they held a procedural vote to allow any further action to be passed using budget reconciliation, which limits what the bill can contain, but shields the bill from filibuster. Both of these passed. The latter vote ALSO included a bunch of votes on amendments (really, amendments to the guidance given to Mike Enzi, Republican Chair of the Senate Budget Committee) about specific, popular provisions in the ACA, like pre-existing conditions, children's health care, cost controls, etc, offered by Democrats. They offered these, knowing they would fail, in part to slow the process, and in part to create embarrassing votes they can reference in elections. So that list of things the GOP voted against is technically true, but also misleading.

Neither of those votes repeals the ACA, but both were shared by left-of-center facebookers as if they had. The dangers I see include:

  • Creating panic and despair among those who depend on their ACA-dependent health insurance. Your insurance isn't gone. It's not even (yet) scheduled to go away. Even if it is, it won't go away until the end of your plan year.
  • Creating defeatism among those who might be inclined to take action against the GOP repeal if they didn't think it was already done. There are things we need to do NOW, which don't include contacting Paul Ryan (unless he's your Representative). 
  • Sharing via context-free copy & paste is a terrible way to get information about the world, and is part of why your great-uncle thought Obama was coming for his guns and that John Podesta eats toddlers. 

Here are three things I researched and posted at the time. I've collected them here because I've seen the memes enough times RECENTLY that putting them in one place stands to save me a lot of time. So, here we go:

January 12
I compiled some useful information about what happened last night, and what to do now if you want to support the Affordable Care Act remaining as law.
Forget protest retweets and facebook shares, and ignore the useless online petitions ( is done, y'all). Get on the phone.
Special entreaty to friends in Alaska, Tennessee, Louisiana, Maine, Arkansas, and a myriad of other, redder states and districts: WE NEED YOU! Please call your Representative or Senator's *district or state office.*
Please feel free to share this.

January 12
Please read this Tweet storm from a Congressional staffer about last night's ACA vote and the reactions today. Very critical of claims that the law was repealed, and included an explanation I didn't previously know about the Amendments offered by Dems and, to a one, voted down. 

January 12

Vann Newkirk has been indispensable on the ACA stuff. Here he is on the limits and pressures (both procedural and poliitcal) on what the Republicans can and cannot do via reconciliation.
A LINK TO THIS ATLANTIC STORY: "The Limits of Using Reconciliation to Repeal Obamacare"

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