The GOP is making one last desperate effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with a bill that would have a deleterious effect on millions of Americans' health care. It's called the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill, named for the two senators behind it, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. But time is running out; it needs to be passed by Sept. 30 to utilize the budget reconciliation process, or else the Republicans would need 60 votes. So, here's how to protest the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, because the long-running political battle over health care is finally coming to a head.
Make no mistake, recent reports suggest the risk of the Republicans passing the bill is real. With a hard deadling looming over the party, and the demonstrated reality that President Donald Trump has increasingly been working with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi in recent weeks, there's a lot of pressure on the party to push Graham-Cassidy through, and thus to try to convince Trump he can trust the GOP to secure him a legislative legacy.
There will never be a better time to make your voice heard than right now, if indeed you're one of the millions of people who would suffer from Graham-Cassidy's passage, or if you're simply an advocate for more progressive policies on health care coverage.
First-term Democratic senator Kamala Harris made just that point on Twitter this week, imploring people to light up the switchboard at the U.S. Capitol building. For all intents and purposes, with a potential effort to vote on Graham-Cassidy mere days away and with no congressional recess period between then and now, this is likely the best way for you to speak out that could have a cumulative and meaningful impact ― calling your member of Congress and telling them you demand that they vote no.
If you're looking to call up your senator or representative, it's easy to find the needed contact information. Every senator and representative has that very information posted to their websites, and all of it can be found through the official U.S. Senate and House of Representatives directories. At this moment, however, it's the Senate that's mulling a vote on Graham-Cassidy, and therefore that's where you should be focusing your attention.
It's also important to remember that there's more than one number you can call to get in touch with your senator. In addition to calling their offices at the Capitol building, you can (and according to some former political staffers, should) call up your senator's state-level Senate offices too, and be polite yet very firm about how you feel about the latest GOP health care push.
Every little bit helps, especially if your voice is joining a wave of opposition. In the run-up to July's health care votes, a groundswell of opposition jammed up congressional phone lines, making it clear just how devastatingly unpopular the GOP would be it they pushed a repeal bill through. The same kind of public pressure is what the Democrats ― and the everyday people who rely on the ACA, also known as Obamacare ― are hoping for now.
For what it's worth, calling your senator to protest Graham-Cassidy is especially important if you live in a state with a Republican senator who's caught near the middle on health care, or who seems able to be convinced. Sadly, in an age of increasingly hyper-polarized politics, that's a pretty narrow range. But ultimately, it's the same list of names that loomed so large during the health care repeal push in late July ― senators like John McCain, Dean Heller, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Rand Paul.
So far, Murkowski and Collins have given no indication they've changed their minds about ACA repeal, having voted against it in July, and Paul similarly opposes Graham-Cassidy on the grounds that it's not conservative enough. If those three senators don't budge, the bill is dead, although a lot can change in a relatively short period of time, so that's hardly much comfort to people whose health and whose lives depend on what happens over the next couple of weeks.