by Félix Pérez; images of President Trump and Senator McConnell by Gage Skidmore, Flickr
It appears millions of children who rely on Medicaid for essential — sometimes lifesaving — health care will not lose their health insurance despite a months-long push by Congressional Republican leaders and President Trump to replace the Affordable Care Act with a bill largely paid for by deep cuts to Medicaid, a health care program that serves 6 out of every 10 children with disabilities.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided last night against bringing the bill to the floor for a vote when two Republican senators announced they would not support it. The senators’ opposition made it impossible to secure the 50 votes necessary for the replace and repeal bill to proceed. McConnell today maneuvered to have the Senate vote on an outright repeal of ACA, informally known as Obamacare, but at press time, McConnell did not have the votes from members of his own party.
McConnell, however, announced this evening that the Senate will hold a vote to proceed to a measure to repeal Obamacare early next week. McConnell said the vote was “at the request of the president and vice president and after consulting with our members.”
McConnell’s vague response aside, what was clear was that educators from across the nation called and emailed their senators to demand a ‘no’ vote on a bill that the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation concluded could cause as many as 16.5 million children to lose their health insurance. Educators and their allies sent more than 275,000 letters and placed 7,000 phone calls through a digital campaign organized by the National Education Association.
In addition to the children whose health insurance was in jeopardy, school-based medical services for students paid for by Medicaid, such as vision and hearing screenings, speech language services, physical and occupational therapy for students with disabilities, and other services, were at risk. The funds provided through Medicaid also help pay for nurses, psychologists, counselors, therapists and speech pathologists.
Marc Egan, the chief lobbyist for the National Education Association, said:
Educators can take credit for helping to defeat a bill that was nothing short of a radical rollback of federal funding for Medicaid. Educators are trusted messengers when it comes to the needs of their students, and they showed once again that they will not be silent, especially on an issue that is so personal.
Egan said educators should celebrate their victory but keep calling their senators to turn back next week’s repeal vote. “We can’t afford to let our guard down. There’s too much at stake.”