Contact:
Kimberly N. Alleyne , kimberly.alleyne@seiu.org, 703-850-4435

Issued June 22, 2017

Healthcare workers across America intensify fight to save Medicaid as Senate Republicans release shameful repeal bill crafted in secrecy

Nurses, home care, nursing home workers calling out GOP leaders for “Better Care” legislation that could be worse than House version

WASHINGTON, DC – Now that Senate Republicans have finally released their version of the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA), working Americans are seeing exactly why they wrote it behind closed doors. The not-yet CBO scored draft bill, named the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, could deliver an even harder blow to U.S. healthcare than the AHCA, by making even deeper cuts to Medicaid, stranding the millions of working families, seniors, children, and persons with disabilities who rely on it.

“This bill is an attack on working families,” said Service Employees International Union International President Mary Kay Henry. “Gutting Medicaid would rip healthcare away from tens of millions of Americans and cost an untold number of jobs, to pay for tax cuts for greedy corporations and the wealthy. Medicaid funds the care that SEIU members provide to seniors, people with disabilities and children every day. SEIU members and our communities are going to hold their senators accountable and speak with one voice: It’s time to represent the interests of working Americans, not insurance and drug company CEOs.”  

Home care and nursing home workers, and nurses are on the front lines of healthcare each day, and have an intimate understanding of how important Medicaid is for their patients, consumers, and even their own families. Over the last several weeks, they have united their voices on behalf of patients, consumers and residents — by making calls and visiting their members of Congress both in their districts and Washington — to demand Senate GOP leaders release their bill, and allow their constituents opportunities to see and comment on it.

In response to the Senate’s secretive process, SEIU members across the country, along with partners and allies, are calling on their Senators to return to their states to explain to working people what exactly is in the bill.

“I have been a home care worker for 12 years, and not only do my consumers depend on Medicaid to access medical care and life-saving medications, but so does my family. Millions of people rely on Medicaid, but Republicans seem to only want to take care of special interests and wealthy CEOs. I hope they choose to listen to their voters because their voters are certainly watching and listening to them,” said Brenda Lozada of Aurora, Colorado. This week Lozada attempted to meet with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in his D.C. office to ask him not to vote for a bill that his constituents have not seen.

In Nevada, Dignity Health workers are making calls to Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to remind him that just this week he told healthcare workers, “I won’t pass a bill that hurts Nevadans.” They also are braving triple-digit temperatures to rally outside his Las Vegas office and demand that he votes to keep Nevadans covered. Today Pennsylvania healthcare workers are kicking off 24-hour vigils outside of Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Penn.)  offices in Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Wilkes-Barre.

“I get emotional whenever I think of what will happen to the residents I care for if Senate Republicans do away with Medicaid. That is why I am fighting for them, and we will all keep fighting for a healthcare system that works for everyone not just millionaires and wealthy CEOs who some members of Congress care more about,” said Ethel Turner, a Huntington, West Virginia, nursing home worker who traveled to Washington this week to ask Sen. Shelley Moore Capito to take the bill home and explain to voters what is in it.

SEIU members and allies have made 240,000 calls to Congress since their attempts to take healthcare from working people began. They will continue to hold events and actions across the country throughout the congressional recess, July 3-July 10.