In the meantime, health care.
As summer sets in, troubling news continues to pour out of Trump’s administration at a consistently feverish pace. Some of the big issues of the week: Former FBI head James Comey’s highly anticipated testimony, more questions about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, federal budget cuts, the lead up to this morning’s announcement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about Bears Ears. Underneath it all is the big, looming issue of health care and that ever-so-secret Senate health care bill that Mitch McConnell is trying to get passed by June 30th… despite the fact that it is not even fully drafted yet and very few people have been privy to any details.
That’s why Utahns marched to the Federal Building in Salt Lake on Saturday. The bipartisan rally highlighted the fact that Utah has serious health care issues that must be solved, regardless of partisan politics in Washington.
As last week’s reactions to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement show, there is great power in our nation’s cities and states to create the best policy for our unique populations. States and municipalities can lead the way on issues like clean energy, immigration, education, election reforms and, yes, even health care. California is contemplating making the huge leap to a single payer system. New York and Vermont have considered a system revamp too. Perhaps more influential to the national picture is a bill the Nevada state legislature passed last week with bipartisan support to offer Medicaid for all.
No matter what you think of these specific policies, these states have acknowledged the very real facts about their health care needs and the inability for the American Health Care Act or the Senate plan to solve them. Health care policy requires a thoughtful, nonpartisan or bipartisan approach that tackles significant health issues like addiction, which is a huge problem right here in Utah. (In case you missed it last week, be sure to check out our Issue Update: “Understanding Utah’s “opidemic (Part 1)“, and look for Part 2 coming out this week.)
At Action Utah, we are working hard to identify (and in some cases even spearhead) the best state and municipal policy initiatives in health care and other issue areas that work for Utah families. We are using the Interim time to develop these initiatives and provide you with information and easy actions Utahns from both sides of the aisle can take to advance them this year and during the 2018 State Legislative Session.
Interested in getting more involved in our efforts? Join an issue subcommittee! Click here to learn more. And join Action Utah at the State Capitol for Interim Session on Wednesday, June 21.
Wednesday, June 21, 8:00a – INTERIM SESSION at the State Capitol, Salt Lake City. Join Action Utah Issue Captains and members for a brief tour and introduction to the State Legislature, then sit in on an interim committee meeting of your choice. This is a great way to get to know the state legislature and how policymaking at the state level works. Sitting in on a committee meeting requires no previous experience and no participation.Click here to RSVP.
Morning interim committee meetings run from 8:30a-11:00a and include:
- Business and Labor Interim Committee (Agenda)
- Education Interim Committee (Agenda not available yet)
- Government Operations Interim Committee (Agenda)
- Health and Human Services Interim Committee (Agenda)
- Political Subdivisions Interim Committee (Agenda)
- Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Interim Committee (Agenda)
- Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee (Agenda not available yet)
- Judiciary Interim Committee (Agenda)
- Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee (Agenda)
- Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee (Agenda)
- Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee (Agenda)
- Transportation Interim Committee (Agenda not available yet)
1. Ask Senators Lee and Hatch for transparency in health care policymaking. After the House rushed to pass the American Health Care Act with no public hearings or amendments, the Senate has created a group of 13 white men (including both Senators Hatch and Lee) to write a new health care bill entirely behind closed doors. Last week Mitch McConnell began procedural steps to fast-track the legislation in hopes that it will pass by June 30th without input by Democrats or stakeholders on a bill that will impact the health and survival of millions and millions of Americans. The Senate will use the budget reconciliation process to try to pass the measure, ensuring it can pass with just 50 votes (plus a tie-breaker by Mike Pence) and preventing a Democratic filibuster. By contrast, before the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, Democrats in the House held a series of public hearings, posting a public discussion draft in between, and held 3 committee markups. In the Senate HELP Committee held 14 bipartisan roundtables and 13 public hearings, and during their markup accepted over 160 Republican amendments.The Senate Finance Committee held an additional 17 public hearings, roundtables and summits, plus a markup. The independent Congressional Budget Office’s ‘scores’ were available prior to each vote at each stage of the process.
- Call Senators Hatch and Lee and ask for a transparent process in shaping the legislation that impacts our lives.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)
2. Tell your health care story to a Senate staffer. Real personal stories are sometimes the most powerful way to influence policymaking. Do you have a personal story that Senators Hatch and Lee should know when drafting the next health care reform bill? Make sure they hear it by communicating with their staffers.
3. Ask specific Senators to put people over politics. The American Health Care Act would see 23 million Americans lose their health care. According to latest estimates, the Senate bill would see 16 million people lose their health care.
- Use this Trumpcare Toolkit to call and tweet targeted Senators from other states.
- Sign this letter to demand input on the Senate’s secret health care bill, posted along with hundreds of other great petitions on our Petitions, Petitions! page, updated daily.
- Retweet this and share it with your friends in the targeted states listed.
4. Follow these Twitter accounts for health care updates:
- Utah Health Policy Project @UHPP
- Healthier Utah Coalition @CTGUtah
- Save Medicaid Utah @SaveMedicaidUT
- Disability Law Center @DLCofUT
- Families USA @FamiliesUSA
- Andy Slavitt @ASlavitt
- Sarah Kliff (Vox) @SarahKliff
5. Join our Action Utah Health Care Subcommittee. Join Issue Captain Carrie Butler in identifying and spearheading state and regional health care policy that benefits Utah families and communities.
- Visit our Volunteer page for more information and to apply.
Counting our victories are extremely important. Here’s one we think you should know about:
Drilling near Zion axed – Recently we learned that Governor Herbert pulled the drilling project along the border of Zion National Park from the BLM’s upcoming sale and lease auction. Why? Because the BLM received 40,000 public comments — mostly negative opinions about the project — which pointed to the economic impacts. The BLM’s own impact study showed negative economic impacts of the drilling project on the steadily-growing tourism industry in Zion, which relies on the beauty and scenery of the region. Thank you Governor Herbert for recognizing that conserving public lands can be economically beneficial to Utah!
Keep up the good work, Utahns!
Andrea & Katie
Co-Founders, Action Utah