Outrage over House Republicans' narrow victory in passing the American Health Care Act is still circulating. However, John Oliver's ACHA bill segment on Last Week Tonight reminded viewers that their outrage actually has to get channeled somewhere. After the shock wears off, there's still work to be done.
This week, the House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, affectionately known as Obamacare, with the AHCA, a bill that does away with much of what made the admittedly imperfect ACA so revolutionary. Most notably, the most recent version of the AHCA strips away protections put in place by the ACA for people with pre-existing conditions, potentially making it more difficult for them to be able to afford health care. "Yes, they took a bad thing, and managed to make it even worse," Oliver pointed out. "It's like watching Mariah Carey's Glitter and saying, 'You know what this needs? Jar Jar Binks.'"
The current version also halts the Medicaid expansion Obamacare had planned, and drains existing Medicaid of $800 billion. Of course, this threatens the health care access of women, low-income folks, and already sick and disabled people the most. The Congressional Budget Office hadn't even gotten a chance to assess the potential damages of the bill before House Republicans rammed it through in a vote of 217 to 213. And if you're baffled by what a close vote that is, you aren't the only one.
"They were so desperate for votes," Oliver joked, "Jason Chaffetz flew in following foot surgery with his leg up on a jaunty scooter, zipping around like a corgi with hip displasia." He was also disturbed by how many members of Congress got stumped by members of the press when asked about the ins and outs of the bill, after so many of them bravely admitted that they relied on their staff to read it thoroughly for them.
Oliver said in conclusion:
This bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, who are expected to write their own version. And while it may be slightly more moderate, that could really still amount to basically cutting a shit sandwich in half. And if any bill gets to President Trump's desk, we already know he will sign it. This guy would sign a live snake as long as it had 'Obamacare Repeal' written on it. So it is dangerous to assume that this bill will die on its own. Your senators are incredibly important right now. And they're going to recess soon, so you need to let them know how you feel about this.
And he's right. The good news is, flooding senators with phone calls in protest of whatever fresh hell the Trump administration has brought down on America is old hat for most people by now. We're seasoned veterans. Hopefully, The Oliver Effect serves as a useful reminder for people to wield the tools they have at hand to fight back against decimating the health care system for people who need it most.