Corker, Alexander Vote to Cut Healthcare, Give Tax Breaks to Rich and Corporations

Following U.S. Senate votes this week to repeal the Affordable Care Act and ahead of Sunday’s 52nd anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare this weekend, Tennesseans including Tennessee Citizen Action members, gathered to hold Senators Alexander and Corker accountable for their efforts to strip health care from millions of American families, including as many as 251,000 Tennesseans who gained coverage under the law.


The event at the TennCare office Saturday was part of Our Lives on the Line’s nationwide day of action, led by Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and other partners, to stop devastating, permanent cuts to Medicaid, to  protect Medicare against privatization schemes and to stop the Republican plan to take away health care from up to 32 million Americans in order to pay for $541 billion in tax breaks for the wealthy and drug and insurance companies.


“Senate Republicans’ efforts to move ahead with any repeal bill they can scrounge up the votes for, despite the deadly consequences for millions, are horrifying,”said Andy Spears, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action. “We will not stand by while Senators Alexander and Corker vote to take health care away from us or force us to pay sky-high premiums for worse care while giving billions away in tax cuts to billionaires.”


Radical changes to Medicaid and Medicare in the Republican repeal bills and in the new FY2018 budget resolution, which also includes a repeal proposal, put lives on the line in every state. Signed into law on July 30th, 1965, both programs have a proven track record of providing healthcare with greater efficiency and at lower cost than private insurance and both are critical sources of healthcare, particularly for seniors, children, people with disabilities, veterans and women.


Republican repeal plans and the GOP proposed budget radically restructure the federal funding for the traditional Medicaid program to starve it over the years, forcing eligibility and benefit cuts, creating huge burdens for state budgets, closing hospitals and costing millions of health care jobs. Over 1.5 million people in our state depend on Medicaid, including 805,000 children, 146,000 seniors, and 275,000 people with disabilities as well as 43,000 veterans.

Nationally, Medicaid provides coverage to one in five Americans, including 30 million children. It pays for half the births in the United States, 75% of all family planning services, 64% of nursing home care, and 30% of all care for people with disabilities. Nearly 2 million veterans get health care through Medicaid. Medicaid also costs far less per beneficiary than either Medicare or private health insurance, and its costs have been rising more slowly than private insurance.


Medicare is a pillar of the American healthcare system, serving over 55 million people ages 65 and over and people with permanent disabilities, including 1.2 million Tennesseans. Repeal bills in both the House and Senate would shave years off the Medicare Trust Fund in order to give tax breaks to the rich and corporations. And the Republican House budget plan cuts $487 billion from Medicare over ten years.


The votes of Senators Alexander and Corker to move forward with the repeal process and in favor of “skinny repeal” were a slap in the face to Tennesseans who have worked tirelessly to defend their care,” Spears said. “Tennesseans will not forget the willingness of both our Senators to sacrifice our health care for a political ‘win.’”


National organizations including AARP, the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Council of Bishops, the March of Dimes and many other groups oppose the repeal bill. Recent polls confirm that voters also oppose this repeal by a three to one margin, and it is the single least popular piece of federal legislation in decades.


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For more on the fight to ensure access to quality, affordable healthcare, follow @TNCitizenAction

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