Image of Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) via Getty.

For the past week, Republicans have been scrambling, yet again, to shove a cruel and horribly stupid Obamacare repeal through Congress before the budget reconciliation process ends on September 30. Fortunately for our bodies, they seem to have failed again.

On this episode of Big Time Dicks (recorded on Monday morning, before the bill seemed all but dead... News! It moves quickly), we broke down the bill with the help of the Center for Reproductive Rights’s senior federal policy adviser Amy Friedrich-Karnik.

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“They have been pretty focused on almost every attempt to repeal Obamacare to really target women’s health services,” Friedrich-Karnik explained. “Every version of the bill, including Graham-Cassidy, is really just devastating for women’s health. They defund Planned Parenthood, they restrict abortion coverage for private insurance, they really decimate Medicaid as we know it, they make essential health services like maternity care waivable, which means states can opt not to offer those kinds of services.”

A new version of the bill that circulated this past weekend also made women’s preventive services waivable, which includes the birth control mandate.

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But, on Monday evening, following a hearing for the bill during which 181 protesters, many in wheelchairs, were arrested, Maine Sen. Susan Collins—one of the only Republican hold-outs on the numerous repeal attempts—announced her opposition to the bill, despite extra funding for her state to sweeten the deal, making its passage highly unlikely.

“Health care is a deeply personal, complex issue that affects every single one of us and one-sixth of the American economy,” she said in a statement, according to the New York Times. “Sweeping reforms to our health care system and to Medicaid can’t be done well in a compressed time frame when the actual bill is a moving target.”

Undoubtedly, Republicans will continue to attempt to repeal Obamacare—the one issue many of them have campaigned on for seven years. But on September 30, the budget reconciliation process will end, meaning that they’ll need 60 votes instead of 50 to push through legislation—an unlikely achievement without major changes (like, say, recognizing the humanity of women and poor people!), considering 50 votes have also proven out of their reach.

“It is hard to think of lots of ways to say ‘devastating,’ and ‘decimating,’ and ‘ruining,’” Friedrich-Karnik told us of the task of repeatedly having to analyze and speak about these unwaveringly awful healthcare bills. “What keeps me going is how incredibly important this is, and really what is at stake. It is hard to describe what is at stake with a bill like this, and so, in many ways, there is no choice but to keep fighting and to keep up the strength and to keep speaking out until every single person in this country is aware of what’s at stake.”

“And then it is also energizing, because the resistance is working and we saw these bills fail over the summer and I’m hopeful we’re going to see the bill fail again this week, so when you see the hard work that you’re putting in with your colleagues, and everyone on the ground and across the country, and you see it pay off, that is motivating.”


Big Time Dicks can be found on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, iHeart Radio, and on the NPR One app.

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