Governor Cuomo and over 125 clergy and faith-based leaders came together and issued an open letter condemning white supremacy and hatred in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville last weekend and the continued protests. Please read and consider signing on. Faith Based Letter
Statement on Events in Charlottesville Click here for a statement and upcoming events and news stories about previous events related to Charlottesville.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATES – AUGUST 1, 2017
The New York State Council of Churches wishes to thank everyone who sought to defeat the effort to repeal and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. On early Friday morning, the last vote was taken on the so called “skinny bill” which would have denied 16 million people health insurance while jacking up premiums 20% annually. At the end of the day, we thank Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and John McCain (Arizona) for their no votes which defeated this measure. We also thank our New York Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand for their leadership. We urge you to call the offices of these Senators to express your appreciation.
This defeat came as a result of your amazing advocacy. Your phone calls, e-mails, protests made all the difference. This sort of marvelous grassroots effort had and will continue to have a powerful impact on public policy.
Moving forward, it is important to remember that there will be aggressive efforts by the President and his allies in Congress to find other ways to undermine the ACA. For example, cuts in Medicaid are contemplated in the House budget along with attempts to turn Medicaid allocations into block grants. We will be vigilantly tracking these efforts and let you know how to apply pressure to ensure there is no damage done. Significantly, we would applaud a bi-partisan effort, as described by Senator McCain, to make truly effective improvements to the law.
An academic paper in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) written by former President Obama offers a lot of constructive suggestions. We also will look for openings to advocate for a public option including Medicare for All and efforts to institute single payer on the state and national level.
While the fight to improve health care in the United States persists, its important that we also pay very close attention to the preparation of the Federal budget. At this time, it looks like massive increases in Defense spending are being proposed which are coupled with very large cuts in domestic spending. Tax reform, while having some potential benefits, will likely favor the very wealthy while the middle class and the poor will see nominal improvement in taxes while being denied other benefits resulting in more out of pocket costs for most Americans. Bad moves on the Federal level could cause budget hardships in New York State which will damage our economy, widen the gap between rich and poor, and put more upward pressure on property taxes. We will support positive efforts at the state level to reverse negative impact of Federal moves and improve the lives of New York citizens. We also remain very concerned about deportations cause great damage to families and implementation of environmental policies which will damage our air, water ways and local economies.
We urge you to pay close attention to the votes and positions of your senators and representatives at both the national and state level and advocate accordingly. We will keep you informed of new developments on our web page. Our Facebook page, however, is an excellent place to go for the most immediate updates. We also urge you to get involved with various advocacy networks in your local communities like Citizens Action and to sign up for advocacy updates by denominations and the National Council of Churches.
UPDATE ON HEALTH CARE REPEAL AND REPLACE AND REPEAL ONLY BILLS
What follows is a report from our partners from the Health Care Action Network on health care legislation. It appears that Senator McConnell is pushing to have a procedural vote on Tuesday, July 25. We encourage you to use the Hub dialer system to contact moderate senators in other states who may be wavering. Please visit the hub dialer site and sign-in as a volunteer. Then enter this Campaign ID: 09740 and Code: 171717 to get into the campaign. Predictive dialing shows you a script when a call is answered. Remember, Don’t Hang Up! You’ll stay on the phone until you finish making calls. When you finish speaking with someone, stay on the line so you can be connected to your next call. More HubDialer Instructions here.
Also, please continue to place calls to your congressperson. It’s important to remember that the “deals” described below to get those votes are extremely modest and will ameliorate the massive cuts in funding in the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
Although we’re already hearing folks talk like the GOP healthcare repeal effort is “dead,” please be assured that it is very much alive. Whatever President Trump said to the GOP Senators at lunch on Tuesday certainly lit a fire under them to re-work the plan, re-commit and get back on track with their plan to dismantle healthcare. There have been a lot of developments and not all are clear. This Washington Post piece has the right idea.
The repeal and replacement (BCRA) that the Senate has been working on for some time. It’s a bad bill that can’t be fixed and in addition to doing terrible things to ACA, also ends Medicaid as we know it by creating caps in Medicaid. Yesterday’s CBO score revealed that notwithstanding all kinds of adjustments, etc., the latest version of the bill still cuts healthcare for 15 million people by next year and by 22 million by 2026.
The repeal-only bill (otherwise called the “repeal with no replacement” or the “repeal and run” bill), which would repeal the ACA and would be a recycled version of a repeal bill Republicans voted for in 2015 and that President Obama vetoed.
THE NEW POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN
We invite you to come to the second Truth Commission on Poverty as part of the New Poor People’s Campaign, to be held on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at First United Methodist Church in Schenectady, New York. Planned by the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York, the New York State Council of Churches is one of a number of co-sponsors. Our Bridging the Urban Rural Divide Conference is another complement to the important work underway.
What follows is the official announcement from the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York about the event:
“The Capital Region Truth Commission on Poverty is less than two weeks away, and we’ve had so much interest that we are moving to a larger venue: First United Methodist Church in Schenectady, 603 State St.
The Capital Region Truth Commission is the second of three events we’re holding across New York this summer to tell the truth about ongoing injustices in New York communities, make connections across issues and regions of our state, and support existing efforts to organize and advocate against poverty.”
HEALTH CARE IN THE SENATE
The “Better Care Reconciliation Act” is winding its way through the United States Senate. At the moment, they do not have the votes to pass the bill but they are working to offer sweeteners and amendments which could secure the votes of 50 Senators. This bill will have very severe effects on our health care and we urge citizens to do everything they can to stop it from going forward.
In that spirit, we are joining many partners to urge you to call your Congressperson and most especially: John Faso, Lee Zeldin, Claudia Tenney, Chris Collins, Peter King, Elise Stefanik, and Tom Reed, all of whom voted for the House bill. We also urge you to call Dan Donovan and John Katko who both voted against the House bill. They need to be thanked and encouraged to vote no, again, if the Senate bill reaches the House.
The New York State Council of Churches is sponsoring a call in day on Friday, July 14. We urge you to call the aforementioned Congress people to voice your concern and ask them to stop the yes vote in the Senate and to please vote no should the Senate bill reach the House floor.