Video: How to protect American healthcare

Note: #MEAction is a non-partisan organization, and is not affiliated with any political party. The views of the presenter are not necessarily those of #MEAction.
Housing Works is mobilizing people who want to fight for health care. Housing Works provided this webinar last month on how to protect and improve healthcare in the U.S. using a tactic called “bird-dogging.”
View the recording here. (We apologize that the introduction to the presenter was cut off.)
The metaphor of “bird-dogging” comes from a hunter who uses a dog to jump into the bushes and scare out the birds out so that the hunter can get a better picture of what they’re dealing with. In other words, a bird-dog exposes your target.

“We need to challenge our elected officials to force them to come out publicly and make a statement [on health care issues] and that gives us a chance to hold that elected official accountable,” said Jaron Benjamin, who gave the presentation.

Benjamin noted other examples where bird-dogging has been successful, including the case in the nineties when eight activists staged a protest on the prohibitive price of AIDS drugs in South Africa during Al Gore’s announcement to run for president. The eight followed Al Gore to his next event to continue the public shaming. Al Gore eventually worked with congress to negotiate down the price of HIV drugs from $10,000 per year to $350 for South Africans.

For more information about the Housing Works activism on the ACA, contact Paul Davis at [email protected].

Key facts and talking points about the Affordable Care Act

Key Facts
• 20 million more Americans have health coverage TODAY due to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. (Source: HHS)
• If the ACA is repealed, 30 million will lose their health coverage in the future (Urban Institute). (The higher number is because the individual insurance market will collapse with ACA repeal.)
• Health coverage for these 20 million people is paid mostly through $600 billion in taxes over 10 years from the rich and health insurance and drug companies. (Families USA)
• The ACA has helped reduce inequality because it requires the wealthy to contribute more in taxes AND it provides a critical benefit to low-income Americans. (Washington Post)
• ACA repeal will give each of the 400 richest families a $7 million tax cut, on average. (CBPP)
Talking Points
• It’s time the wealthy and big corporations started paying their fair share of taxes so we can create an economy that works for all of us. That starts by saying no to repealing the ACA and saying yes to ending tax giveaways to the rich and to powerful insurance and drug companies.
• Repealing the ACA will take away health care for 30 million Americans. At the same time, it will give $600 billion in tax breaks to the rich and to insurance and drug companies. That’s a very bad deal for America’s families.
• If the ACA is repealed, the 400 richest Americans will each get a $7 million tax cut while millions will lose their health care. That’s what I call a rigged system; it needs to end.
• Every Republican proposal to replace the ACA would increase taxes on working families to pay for health insurance rather than make the rich and big insurance companies pay more.
• The ACA covers 20 million more people today because it asks the wealthy and insurance and drug companies to pay a bit more in taxes. A meaningful replacement plan needs to raise the $600 billion needed to keep these 20 million people covered.
• Medicare beneficiaries will face higher premiums and deductibles if the ACA is repealed. ACA taxes helped to extend Medicare for another 10 years. That means Medicare can fully serve the 57 million who depend on this earned benefit.
• If the ACA is repealed, millions of children, seniors and people with disabilities will lose their Medicaid coverage while insurance and drug companies will get $250 billion in tax breaks.
• Members of Congress need to decide whose side they are on. Do they stand with working families or with big insurance and drug companies?
Town Hall Questions
• The ACA provides health coverage to 20 million children, seniors and people with disabilities by asking the richest Americans and big insurance and drug companies to pay a bit more in taxes. That seems fair since the high cost of health care is tied to the big profits made by insurance companies and drug companies. Do you object to the rich doing their part to help the rest of us?
• If the ACA is repealed, the 400 wealthiest families in America will each get a tax cut of $7 million. Do you support this giant tax giveaway to the super-wealthy? Are they more deserving than tens of millions of Americans who can’t afford health insurance on their own?
• If you repeal the ACA, you lose $600 billion in tax revenue over ten years. That money pays for health care for 20 million people. Some members of Congress have said the way to replace that revenue is to start taxing the health coverage that employers provide to their workers. Do you support taxing my health care benefits?
Repealing #Obamacare = 30M people lose health coverage while cutting taxes of rich and corporations by $600B. That’s a bad deal. #SaveACA
13M low-income Americans will lose Medicaid/CHIP if #Obamacare is repealed. The wealthy will get a $346B tax cut. Not fair. #SaveACA
9M people will lose help buying insurance if #Obamacare is repealed, while insurance and drug companies get $247B in tax breaks. #SaveACA
7M ppl will lose health coverage when insurance market folds after #Obamacare repeal, while 400 richest get $7M tax break. #BadDeal #SaveACA
#Obamacare taxes rich to give working families health care, narrowing income inequality. Repeal would widen it again. Seem fair? #SaveACA
Department of Health and Human Services, Health Insurance Coverage and The Affordable Care Act, 2010–2016 Urban Institute, Implications of Partial Repeal of the ACA through Reconciliation
Families USA, Repeal of the Affordable Care Act = A Huge Tax Cut for the Wealthy
The Washington Post, How Obama Has Narrowed The Income Inequality Gap
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, ACA Repeal Would Lavish Medicare Tax Cuts on 400 Highest-Income Households


3 thoughts on “Video: How to protect American healthcare”

  1. How was it decided that the biggest ME group, and thus the face of our illness, would be pro ACA? Many of these facts are slanted. I guess it starts with the idea that the rich aren’t paying their fair share. Right now the top 1% pays 50 percent. The thing that’s most “rigged” if any is the loopholes but that’s the thinking behind the high rates – let’s soak them because we know then they will pay me off as an elected official by giving them the loophole that puts them back at the lower rate (but that’s another topic for another day). Yes the aca is funded by going after the rich as again that’s how most of the government is funded. Now that they are looking at rolling back some of the business taxes so they can repatriate funds (and remember we have one of the highest if not the highest corporate rates in the Developed world) we are seeing job creation. Look at the last month – the Econ. Created like 50% more jobs I think than was anticipated. That will help people regain real health insurance.
    That said while I think there is an argument made to keeping some of the taxes but my issue is not how we are funding things but WHAT we are funding. yes 20 million were added but did you know that more than a quarter of that number ALREADY qualified for gov coverage and either didn’t know that or didn’t care. And how many of that remaining 15 million only signed up because free care At government expense is better than paying the penalty. Do you realize that the aca penalized businesses from hiring full time employees and depressed the economy and without those jobs people can’t afford insurance. Do you know trump already sat down with big pharma to lower drug costs but no rx control was even attempted with the aca (because the don’t want you buying a plan that fits your needs they want you to take what they give. Do you realize that many people had insurance but then could not find a doc who would take it. That makes it insurance in name only. Do you realize too that study after study showed it was t the rich who lost out, it was the middle class who could not afford the spiked premiums but we’re just out of range to qualify for subsidizes. No successful nation can thrive without a strong middle class. And to suggest the insurance markets will collapse – have you seen how company after company is abandoning the markets BECAUSE OF the aca.
    Do you also know that the aca siphoned off dollars from Medicare and raised rates for those among us who are disabled. And you first “fact” says 20 mil but your first bullet says 20. That’s the opposite of what you next claim. I know as I’m on Medicare. If the aca stays, we are already seeing companies pull out and markets imploding, which the dems are hoping for so it can justify going to single payer. At that point anyone who has insurance will Find that meaningless and the people the most hurt will be Medicare patients since we paid in part for that care over the course of our work life. The sickest will run into massive delays trying to be seen and as doctors start rationing care, we will find it impossible to get multiple doctors to communicate. If you haven’t noticed the time they are spending with patients is already significantly less than it was before the aca. Plus a single payer system means we will have no recourse when the government says okay here’s your birth control but we aren’t covering pt any more or we are requiring 5 steps in your step therapy. While the government oversees providers it can’t oversee itself.
    Then there’s the anti pharma angle of what this message is. WE NEED A CURE. do you realize that the US is the number one creator of medical innovation/medical equipment/treatments. It’s not even close. We need to lower drug costs but we have to be careful that we aren’t punitive, that our approach diesnt hinder medical R&D
    Opposing the aca doesn’t mean we have to be backing the acha but as much as some might like us to believe it is not a binary choice. We have two issies with the ME community. One is that we need a cure. The second is that we need a wholesale change in our approach to disability. That IMHO starts with getting us detached from the seniors so for example a senior might not need yearly gyn visits but a disabled 20 year old might. We need better chronic pain management, better access to social workers, better access to some sort of home health that might be less extensive and exp. but more flexible and easier to qualify for. We also need easier transitions and support for work so we don’t lose things like food stamps or Medicare savings program benefits for working a few hours. We need better access to supplemental point to point transportation and maybe a block grant for cities to provide targeted programming for the disabled. Maybe in that sense we need a qualification for partial disability (oh and for any work to still apply to ss earnings but not to count against you if you become fully disabled within a few years – maybe something that stops the clock for Ssdi while you try to survive. And speaking of work we need access to small business program designed to help us create our own full or even pt employment so we can work on our own schedule. In my experience many officials think disability services stops and starts with ramps. The advocates for the blind have done a truly masterful job in helping get those opportunities for their patients and we should follow that approach. We need the aca to die and be replaced by a better program but we need research and we need something that helps us work or provides while disabled. Why aren’t we looking at what we need. Saying #aca is not IMHO it and since this is the face of our illness members should have INOUT on that

  2. Lauren,
    Thanks for your comment. As we state in the disclaimer to this article: “#MEAction is a nonpartisan organization, and is not affiliated with any political party. The views of the presenter are not necessarily those of #MEAction.” #MEAction as an organization does not take a position for or against the Affordable Care Act. ME activists of all political persuasions are welcome to use the #MEAction platform in their fight for health equality for those living with myalgic encephalomyelitis. You raise many good points in your final paragraph about changes to healthcare that would benefit those with ME.
    If you are interested in sharing your thoughts with the community about how changes can be made to healthcare that would benefit our community I would encourage you to submit an opinion piece on the website (
    You can also use our site to organize activist trainings like this one, create petitions or mobilize the community to certain actions. If you’d like to discuss how #MEAction’s platform can help you implement and amplify your ideas please contact me at [email protected].
    Thank you for your passion to making a difference in the lives of people with ME and improve our healthcare!

Comments are closed.

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