Bipartisan Mayors Say No to Senate Measure, Citing CBO Figure; Opioid Crisis; Medicaid Cuts; Unacceptable Stress on Town & City Budgets

Participating Mayors Represent Major Populations in Key States in the Senate Debate: ME, WV, NV, OH, AK, AZ

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, a bipartisan group of mayors representing the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) highlighted the catastrophic impact the Senate’s healthcare bill will have on towns and cities across the country – and called for Washington to partner with mayors to find a better way forward.

Mayor John Giles, Mesa, Ariz. led the call, and was joined by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio; Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, Huntington, W. Va Mayor, Stephen Williams and Bangor, Maine Mayor Joe Baldacci in calling for Congress to consider the impact this bill will have on Americans  — which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated will cause 22 million to lose their health insurance and gut efforts to create strong, healthy communities. Mayors also discussed how the Senate bill will eliminate coverage and treatment for Americans with substance abuse issues, making the fight against the country’s opioid epidemic even more difficult, and how deep cuts to Medicaid will put our country’s most vulnerable at risk and devastate community health and municipal budgets – as clinics and emergency rooms are filled with the addicted, the sick and the uninsured.

Participating mayors represent key population centers in states crucial to the Senate debate on the future of the healthcare bill, and several detailed collaborative partnerships with their Senators.

“As a Republican, I can safely say healthcare is a nonpartisan and local issue. I’m struck that in this dire situation, Washington is running away from a burning building,” said Mayor John Giles of Mesa, Ariz. “That is not what cities do; that is not an option for the mayors of this country. The federal government should take a page from us and come together to fix, not destroy, healthcare.”

“The opioid epidemic is a growing problem in Reno and across the country and I’m proud to stand up with other mayors from both parties and all walks of life to take it head on while Congress stalls in partisan gridlock,” said Mayor Hillary Schieve of Reno, Nev.

Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio added, “Ohio is number one in the nation for accidental overdose deaths in the country. And in Dayton, we are at ground zero of that issue, and it’s hitting every part of our community. It does not discriminate. It enters small towns and big cities. Imagine if this bill goes forward, 220,000 Ohioans will be without healthcare services that really impact their lives every single day – that is unconscionable.”

“Gutting Medicaid for the most vulnerable – those with preexisting conditions – spells economic disaster for a state like ours that is having a budget challenge,” said Mayor Williams of Huntington, W. Va. “Choosing not to be a full participating partner in fighting the opioid pandemic is political malpractice. Senators Manchin and Capito have been terrific advocates for the state on this issue and I hope their colleagues in the Senate, Democrat and Republican, join them.”

“In the state of Maine, one person dies every day from an opioid overdose. And this epidemic doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat,” said Mayor Joe Baldacci of Bangor, Maine. “I want to thank my fellow mayors from across the country from both parties and each region for showing up and doing the work of fighting this health crisis each day,” he added.

“As Congress grapples with the issue, they need to remember the things that make America truly a great place,” said Mayor Ethan Berkowitz of Anchorage, AK. “The elimination of some of the support that exists would be catastrophic for our state. In a small state like Alaska, these things are not abstract, they’re personal. It is intensely personal.”

“The bottom line is that all mayors are struggling with the opioid crisis,”  said Mayor de Blasio of New York City. “Now imagine if we had a hand tied behind our back because it was much more expensive for those to get the care that they need – we are currently facing that threat. The opioid crisis is one of the biggest examples of why we can’t diminish the level of healthcare in this country. This is a matter of urgency for us, and we’re all working together, mayors from both parties and mayors from all across the country to address it.”

“As we concluded our 85th Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, the number one issue voiced by our mayors was the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic and how the current healthcare debates in Congress threaten to derail any progress we’ve made in addressing this crisis in our cities. We have strong bipartisan leadership on this issue and we are asking Congress to work with us to help the citizens of our nation by insuring that everyone has access to affordable comprehensive healthcare.” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director, of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

At USCM’s Winter Meeting in January 2017, a bipartisan group of mayors sounded the alarm on congressional actions to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The mayors signed a bipartisan letter to Congress outlining their principles for any legislation that would restructure the American healthcare system. On February 22, 2017, USCM launched a ‘Mayors Day of Action on Healthcare’ where mayors nationwide reached out to their members of Congress, authored op-eds, hosted town halls, and took to social media to express their concerns over legislation that would harm millions of their citizens. See here for more information and follow #MayorsStand4All.

Most recently, newly installed USCM President New Orleans’ Mayor Mitch Landrieu, in his Mayors’ Agenda for the Future, a bipartisan policy agenda and a prescription for leadership that will ensure the safety and security of our communities, fix our crumbling infrastructure, expand our workforce to drive economic growth, and create equitable communities to increase opportunity for all, named access to affordable, high-quality health care a priority for his Presidency. The mayors believe that health care is not only a right, but is essential for a healthy, caring, and vibrant country.

On Monday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was named the organization’s 75th President, and said the “bottom line is that this bill will make us sicker,” and hurt the economy. Landrieu argued that there is a better way, and that Washington should slow down, move beyond partisan politics, and work to find solutions that protect people.