Every week, Playboy, with journalist Lilly Dancyger and Creatives for Progressive Action—a national community of artists, filmmakers, writers and activists using their influence and voices to pursue meaningful and measurable progressive action—will deliver a timely overview of global and domestic political events, controversial policy changes, elections, campaigns and government happenings that deserve our attention and citizen action. From bite-size activism to in-person engagement, our goal is activate the marginalized, make our voices heard and ultimately win the fight for social justice for all. From protecting free speech and freedom of identity to safeguarding freedom of (and from) religion and a free press, both here at home and around the world, we will promote the ideas and values that support equal representation for all under the law. Now get out there and make a difference.
THIS WEEK: Read the New Healthcare Bill—and Then Pick Up the Phone
The Senate Republicans’ version of the AHCA—also known as the Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill, or Trumpcare—is finally available online. You can read the all 142 pages of it here, but the long and short of it is that it’s as bad as many imagined it would be. Senate Democrats, who in recent weeks have been clamoring for hearings on the bill, are not happy.
The bill includes massive tax cuts for the wealthy with capital gains taxes cut by nearly a trillion dollars over 10 years. How do the Senate Republicans propose we pay for that hefty gift to the wealthiest Americans, you ask? By limiting—or taking away altogether—healthcare coverage from the poorest Americans. The bill includes what’s essentially an even trade: cut Medicaid by nearly a trillion dollars over the next 10 years and funnel that money directly to the rich in the form of a huge tax cut.
The bill also includes defunding Planned Parenthood for one year via blocking Medicaid reimbursements. That would be disastrous for the millions of Americans who rely on the organization for not only family planning services, but also cancer screenings and the treatment of serious diseases, and two female Republican senators have already said they likely won’t support the bill with that measure.
Earlier this month, Lena Dunham wrote an op-ed in the New York Times detailing her own history with endometriosis—a painful period-related condition for which hormonal birth control is the best treatment available—and making an impassioned case for birth control coverage to be mandatory in employer and government healthcare plans.
“Birth control pills are many women’s method of choice for preventing unintended pregnancy and should be covered by all insurance policies for that reason alone,” she wrote. “But for millions of women living with endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, cystic acne, migraines, uterine abnormalities and a history of ectopic pregnancies, birth control can be a crucial, even lifesaving, medical treatment.”
Aside from decimating lower income people’s access to Planned Parenthood, it’s projected that proposed cuts to Medicaid would leave more than 20 million people without health coverage. For many, that means drugs related to cancer treament will become unaffordable. The same goes for heart medication and life-saving surgeries. So yes, we’re talking about legislation that will determine life or death.
With no Democrats expected to support a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act, Republicans can only afford to lose two votes. If enough constituents in red states put pressure on their Senators—enough to flip just three of them—we could maintain the health coverage that’s currently keeping millions of citizens alive.
By now, pleas to call your senators are about as ubiquitous as reminders to eat your vegetables or wear your seatbelt. They’re heard so often that we barely register them anymore. But even if you do feel like petitions to call your representative have become the new crying wolf, this is really, truly an important time to call. So once again, please: Call your Senator.
So much of what has happened since Trump’s inauguration has felt urgent and critical, and it’s hard to maintain the fever pitch of commitment to resisting at every turn. There are so many concerning things happening in Washington and it’s tempting to tune it all out and go about your daily life. But of all the things that have happened so far, the healthcare legislation that may very well pass within the next two weeks will have huge ramifications for both you and everyone you know. Millions of Americans will lose health coverage and access to treatments that, in many cases, are keeping them alive. Thanks to the bloated healthcare and pharmaceutical industries in this country, the most crucial treatments are simply out of reach for Americans outside of the one percent to pay for out of pocket.
So please, call your senator. Tell them to do whatever they have to do in order to reform this legislation and keep its current form from passing. Tell them that if they don’t, you’ll remember their failure when election day comes around. Find your senator’s phone number here.
Have an issue you’re particularly passionate about? Maybe it’s anti-racism, or LGBT rights, or the environment, or women’s issues? Email Kristen Murtha, email@example.com, to get involved in this organization and to have it featured in this series.