Attendees: Chuck Bensonhaver, Barbara Burgess, Leigh Cobb, Inger Fyfe, Elise Haderer, Isabel Kottak, Eileen Rice, Gary Rice, Diane Widdus
The opening discussion was about how difficult it is to keep motivated with Trump disasters happening almost every day
There are currently several healthcare issues in our purview.
- Trump has issued an executive order discontinuing the supplemental payments of cost-sharing reduction subsidies. These subsidies lower out-of-pocket costs for individuals enrolled in the ACA exchanges with incomes between 100 and 250% of federal poverty level. Elimination of the subsidies will cause instability in the insurance industry and result in increased premiums. It appears that the only recourse may be a legal one. There is, however, a bipartisan bill in the Senate, the Murray-Alexander market stabilization bill which would continue payments for 2 years to give the legislature time to consider other options. It is not clear whether it has enough votes to be approved or gain approval in the House. The conservatives oppose it because they want to kill the ACA entirely; Trump has been on both sides of the issue (no surprise). Lindsay Graham is supporting it but this appears to be because he is submitting another bill with Bill Cassidy of Louisiana to dismantle the ACA and replace it with state block grants which would give states the option of decreasing the amount of coverage.
- Another current issue is the failure of Congress reauthorize funding for the CHIP program which covers 9 million children and has bipartisan support; it is working through the House and Senate but is being used as a political football. South Carolina will not run out of funds until next summer and since the program was initiated through Medicaid, the state must continue to cover these children through the Early Periodic Screening Program (EPSDT). The EPSDT is considered the gold standard for child health programs but the state will have to cover the entire cost. Leigh had submitted an Alert earlier this month but it remains an issue and a priority.
Other issues discussed:
Women’s healthcare has been the primary focus of the Women’s Reproductive Rights Committee (WRRC); there have been several Alerts about the discontinuation of payment for contraception and for abortion. Elise has been working with Mary Fleck on the committee’s postcard project. Members of the WRRC will deliver the cards to our representative’s offices when they have a significant number completed. Elise brought cards to the meeting and had people sign them and make comments if they wished.
We also discussed what new methods we could use to have influence. Chuck suggested using social media but unfortunately, none of us knows enough to do this.
Eileen suggested that we should recruit moderate Republican to send letters since our representatives seem to know who is calling from Seabrook and Kiawah and knows that we are not the usual supportive constituents.
Another suggestion was to reach out to nonpolitical organizations such as professional groups to ask if they are lobbying our representative. Barbara suggested contacting the head of MUSC.
- Leigh to send another Alert on Chip
- Inger will send out Alert on the Murray-Alexander bill.
- Eileen, Gary and Leigh will organize some informal meetings with moderate Republicans on
- Kiawah with emphasis on less polarizing issues such as CHIP.
- Inger will present this idea to the SIAN board meeting next week.
- Chuck, Inger, Diane and Isabel will contact their respective professional organizations in the state about support for CHIP and lobbying
In summary, I certainly left the meeting invigorated and feeling as if we had some avenues to pursue
SIAN contact: Inger Fyfe
SIAN email: firstname.lastname@example.org