Last Thursday, June 22nd, the Senate released it's version of the new healthcare legislation, which is designed to replace the Affordable Healthcare Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). Due to some legislative loopholes, the Republican party is looking to force a rapid vote on this bill in the next ten days. I won't get into specifics on how they plan to do this (as this isn't a political blog per se), but if you care about our health care system AT ALL you need to reach out to your state senators now. You may have less than two weeks before this vote. You must act NOW. I will show you how.
Being a physician, you can either treat the symptoms or cure the disease. This Congress has been treating the symptoms.
If you haven't heard much about this bill, there are some great summaries/analysis of the House Bill from the Kaiser Foundation and the Senate Bill Specifically from the Health Affairs Blog. I highly recommend skimming some of the bullet points to see what we potentially face should this bill pass as it is. I tried to make these links as non-partisan as I could, but with a subject like healthcare it is a daunting task to separate facts from the politics.
Why is it important to message my Senator now?
Typically, bills of this nature take 60 out of 100 Senators to vote for it for it to become law. This process also takes weeks of debate, public hearings, and amendment addition. However, there is a budget related loophole that will allow for the Senate to pass this bill with only 50 votes (with Vice President Pence as the tie-breaker) as long as they do it by July 7th.
That means there will likely be a vote less than 15 days after your Senator even has a chance to read a 132 page document!
If you want to have any influence over this piece of legislation, it's important to message your Senator NOW.
How do I message my Senator?
You can find out who your representatives and senators are here. Most senators have a website that allows you to email them directly. Although many people feel that a physical paper and pen letter has the most influence, you may not have time to send a letter. At the time of this blog post, there are less than 15 days before the potential vote. You must act now.
What do I put in my email/letter?
Your elected officials receive hundreds of emails and dozens of letters every day. It's important that your message is brief, and to the point. Here is the email that I sent to both of the Senators to my state, adapted as a template you can use:
From: [Your Name]
[City, State, Zip]
June [XX], 2017
The Honorable [Senator Name],
My name is [Your name], and I am both a [Your state] resident and a medical school graduate [or nurse, EMT, medical student etc.]. As a soon to be resident physician [nurse, medical student, EMT...], I am very concerned about the current state and future of our healthcare system. Although I believe that we should always be looking for ways to improve the quality of our healthcare delivery, change should not occur without proper due diligence and bipartisan review.
Specifically, I am writing to you regarding H.R. 1628, the newly released healthcare bill aimed at replacing the Affordable Healthcare Act, and the push for a Senate Reconciliation vote in the upcoming weeks. Regardless of your personal position on this bill, a piece of legislation of this magnitude will affect millions of Americans and deserves appropriate debate and analysis. I ask that you do everything in your power to delay the Senate vote until proper hearings and amendments can be considered. Please encourage your colleagues to refuse to act on this bill until there is proper bipartisan review.
Thank you for your service to the great state of [Your state], and for taking the time to read this message. I believe that this may be the most important vote of the year, and we must not let H.R. 1628 pass without ensuring that it is the best bill for the future of the United States.
[City, State, Zip]
The AMA has also released a template email, but I feel that it is too long and too partisan to make an impact if your Senator happens to support the bill.
If you care about the healthcare system in this country at all, please email/message your Senators today.
What is your opinion on the Healthcare reform bill? Let us know in the comments!