In the early hours of the morning, a dangerous bill that would have jeopardized health care for millions of children and families was narrowly defeated. The U.S. Senate voted 49-51 on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, stopping the bill in its tracks and protecting health care coverage for the American people. The Academy’s response is here.
This was possible because of you. Pediatricians gave children a voice, and senators listened. Your efforts proved the remarkable impact a group of people can make when they come together and stand up for the voiceless – children whose lives were at stake, children who came to Washington with their families to share their stories because they knew what they had to lose, children who count on you to speak up for them in the walls of your clinics and the halls of the Capitol.
You did it. As an Academy, we are only as strong as the pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists like you who advocated tirelessly and never gave up. I want to personally extend my thanks for every phone call, tweet, letter and op-ed. The collective outreach senators received from advocates like you helped build a foundation of opposition, making the vote as narrow and uncertain as it ended up being. We thank the leaders of AAP chapters, committees, councils and sections who never wavered.
Today, we pause and reflect on what worked, then look forward to the next steps – bipartisan solutions for children and families. Any health care legislation that advances in Congress should build on the historic progress we’ve made and ensure that children can continue to access health care coverage that meets their needs at a price their families can afford.
In addition, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is up for renewal and the clock is ticking before the September 30 deadline to extend its funding. CHIP is a bipartisan success story, and lawmakers have an opportunity to make good on their promises and keep the program strong for the millions who rely on it for health insurance. We have our work cut out for us, but I know pediatricians are up for the challenge.
For now, there is one thing you can do – please call your U.S. senators today. You can see how your senators voted on the legislation here.
If your senators voted “no” to the Health Care Freedom Act, please call them and say thank you, especially if you are from Arizona, Maine or Alaska, where Sens. McCain, Collins and Murkowski broke from their party to vote against the bill. If your senators voted “yes,” use the opportunity to reassert the importance of protecting children’s health care coverage in future discussions, including by renewing CHIP. If you have U.S. senators, the phone numbers for their DC offices are listed below:
Sen. Joe Manchin (D) (202) 224-3954
Sen. Shelley Capito (R) (202) 224-6472
Thank you again for all that you do. I am humbled and inspired every day by your dedication to children, and look forward to continuing this important work together.
Fernando Stein, MD, FAAP