Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Right now, the U.S. Senate is debating proposed changes to our nation’s health care system that should alarm all of us and incite our urgent response. The White House administration and Senate Republican leadership have been pushing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and, most importantly, to restructure Medicaid in ways that would result in devastating cuts to health care coverage for millions who need it most: low-income working families, disabled citizens, children and adults not eligible for Medicare.
If any version of the health care bill passes the Senate this week, then it moves forward and puts everything back on the table for revision, including cuts to Medicaid, Essential Health Benefits and coverage for pre-existing conditions. (If the so-called “skinny repeal” is signed into law without additional changes, it is estimated that 16 million people will lose access to health care, and premiums will increase 20 percent.)
Our United Methodist Board of Church and Society is urging faith leaders and other advocates to attend an interfaith prayer vigil today, July 27, from 6 to 8 PM, to save health care coverage for millions. They will gather at the Upper Senate Park, 200 New Jersey Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. “We need as many faith leaders as possible to show up,” says Susan Burton, Director, Women’s & Children’s Advocacy. “Please share the Facebook event broadly and bring friends with you.”
In the meantime, we ask you to please, please contact our Pennsylvania Senators, especially Sen. Pat Toomey at 202-224-4254, and urge them to stop unilateral efforts to adopt the drastic, proposed health care changes and instead to begin a bipartisan effort that can sensibly and humanely address actual concerns.
Pennsylvania is a key state in the debate, and our own Senators’ views and votes are critical to the fate of any proposed legislation. We need our Senators to vote on legislation that will INCREASE access to affordable, quality health care. The current legislation does not, nor would any amendments.
The United Methodist Church is clear: Health care is a basic human right. We must ensure access to affordable, quality health care for all people.
There is no time to waste! The Senate is using a unique budget procedure that limits debate to 20 hours and requires only 50 + 1 votes to pass, rather than the normal 60 votes. The 20 hours is well under way. WE MUST ACT NOW.
As it considers any proposals, our message to the Senate is clear: Does this legislation INCREASE access to affordable, quality healthcare, especially for those who lack income and resources? If not, then we urge you to vote NO.
Our Health Care Strategy for the next 36 hours:
As United Methodists, we need to be persistent during this critical time for the future of our nation’s Health Care. Here is what Church and Society recommends:
1. Keep Calling!
Flood your Senators’ phones with calls. If this feels redundant, think again! The calls are making a difference. There are also hundreds of people with health care stories in your district that probably haven’t called yet. Can you get on the phone with them? Can you gather with others, order a pizza tonight or buy muffins tomorrow morning, and start calling together? The Senators need to hear thousands of stories about how cuts to Medicaid and the proposed “skinny Repeal” will negatively impact our communities.
2. Keep Praying!
Host a sunrise prayer time and livestream it on YouTube or Facebook Live. Let your church and community know in advance. Pray for our Senators as they are in debate session today and on Friday morning.
3. Keep Witnessing!
Host a United Methodist or interfaith vigil or public witness event. Can people of faith gather outside your Senators’ local offices for a vigil or public witness? What news stations or media could attend? Who in your community could speak and share their stories about benefiting from Medicaid, Medicaid Expansion, receiving employer mandated affordable insurance?
4. Keep Sharing!
Submit a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or call the news or editorial desk at your local radio or television station. Encourage them to cover the stories of people who need access to affordable, quality health care coverage.
Remember, to get the attention of your Senators. Prayerful public actions that call out your Senators’ names and that involve large numbers of constituents and media coverage will have the most impact.
Here is a letter sample that people can write this week to their Congressional representatives and Senators about the Health Care Crisis on Capitol Hill.
Remember: Pennsylvania is a key state in the debate and our own Senators’ views and votes are critical to the fate of any proposed legislation.
FYI: Here’s an article on our conference website about a recent protest action–Bishops join protest of proposed Medicaid cuts