BlueWaveNJ hails the amazing victory of the American people this past Friday in blocking the cruel attempt of the Republican Party leadership and the Trump administration to take healthcare away from tens of millions of people.
We wish to thank the 48 steadfast Democratic senators and 3 Republican senators who put the final “No” to this terrible legislation in the U.S. Senate, along with the 193 Democratic and 20 Republican Representatives who narrowly lost a vote on the related House bill in May. We particularly thank the strong support from New Jersey Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez and all seven Democratic Representatives in their opposition to the Republican’s attempt to repeal health care for so many Americans.
We also thank BlueWaveNJ activists along with the legions of our fellow citizens who over the last six-and-a-half months called, wrote, petitioned and emailed Congress and came out to thousands of rallies and town halls in every corner of our country and in Washington, often sharing their poignant stories of how the proposed curtailments of healthcare coverage would have jeopardized their lives and their financial survival. The combined positive role also of Planned Parenthood, of AARP, speaking for senior citizens, of the American Medical Association, of hospital associations, professional actuaries and many others in support of this fight greatly assisted in bringing Congress around to the realization that a strong majority of the American people would never accept this assault on the viability of our communities.
It needs to be emphasized that this victory was a victory for democracy against the backroom secret bill-writing and political strong-armed tactics and threats of the Paul Ryans, the Mitch McConnells and the Donald Trumps of the national Republican Party. There was a reason they resisted the light of national attention. The Republicans’ plans to gut the ACA were designed to give large tax breaks to those least in need of assistance and, to provide these tax breaks to the rich, they were willing to put the lives of millions of Americans at risk.
We are proud that our BlueWaveNJ volunteers and health care committee members made over 1500 calls to voters in states with swing senators, collected story banks that were tapped by one of our senators, made and distributed professional videos of people whose lives were saved by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), wrote letters to representatives and published letters and op-eds in newspapers, participated in weekly vigils, had face-to-face meetings with our representatives in Washington, DC and in New Jersey and held an informational forum with Congressman Frank Pallone and other experts to help explain a complicated issue. BWNJ along with dozens of allied organizations, played a significant role in mobilizing opposition to the repeal bills throughout New Jersey. Grassroots activism across the state persuaded three of the five Republican House members from New Jersey to vote against the repeal.
While we thank our representatives for this victory, this is not the time for activists to be complacent. Health care for millions remains at risk. We take seriously the president’s threat to “let Obamacare fail” by reneging on the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies to insurance providers and his attempts to bully Republicans in Congress to make yet another run at a destructive repeal bill. These subsidies make medical out-of-pocket costs affordable for millions who use the individual market. We also must resist Republican attempts to dismantle the ACA mandate that citizens obtain coverage. These threats are creating additional uncertainty for health insurers, leading them to drastically raise premiums and/or withdraw from the individual insurance market. In addition to raising our collective voice to protect the gains that the Affordable Care Act has brought in the last six years, we need to also push forward to address the ACA’s weaknesses.
Most importantly, in our fight to maintain what we have under the ACA, we must not lose sight of our goal--affordable, quality, healthcare for all. This was the promise of ACA and if we are to move forward rather than backward, we must elect a Democratic Congress in 2018. In New Jersey, we need to send a message to Republican Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen (11th District) and Tom MacArthur (3rd District) whose yes votes on Affordable Care Act repeal and other actions on the healthcare front betrayed their constituents. If they are unwilling to listen to the needs and concerns of their constituents, it is time to repeal and replace them.
BlueWaveNJ also pledges to work to shore up and support New Jerseyans’ rights under the national healthcare programs of Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The shameful role that “stay on the beach” Governor Chris Christie has played, in supporting Donald Trump and not speaking up to protect New Jersey’s Medicaid expansion, has not been lost on us. We believe New Jerseyans cannot afford another “turn back the clock” Republican in our governor’s mansion next year. BlueWaveNJ is committed to work tirelessly between now and November 7 to elect Ambassador Phil Murphy as our next Governor and Sheila Oliver as our next Lieutenant Governor.
Friday was a beautiful day and we are grateful to the representatives that had the courage to say no and to all our members and activists who worked so hard to defeat the Republican bills. The last six months have demonstrated that resistance works. By working together we can ensure a future where quality healthcare is a reality for every American.
Marcia Marley, President, BlueWaveNJ
BWNJ Healthcare Committee:
Sherri Neuwirth – Co-chair
Andrew Sprung – Co-chair
Amanda Turcotte – Co-chair
Mark Lurinsky – Secretary