Want to Give Politicians a Piece of Your Mind? This Text Bot Makes it Easy

 

Yesterday’s passage of the GOP’s health care bill in the House of Representatives has left many Americans in a sudden state of panic in regards to what their health insurance might look like in the future (or whether it’ll exist at all). In its current iteration, in addition to huge cutbacks to Medicaid, the bill would allow states to opt out of most regulations and consumer protections that were definitive measures of Obamacare; for instance:

  • Insurance companies would be allowed to charge older people significantly more than what younger people pay for the same coverage. By and large, this bill would be a disaster for older, low-income individuals.
     
  • They could also choose to eliminate the “essential health benefits,” which include maternity and newborn care, mental health treatment, prescription drugs, ambulances, and emergency services, just to name a few. Y’know--stuff that’s essential for humans to keep on living.
     
  • Insurance companies are able to set rates based on your medical history. This means that individuals with “pre-existing conditions” such as AIDS, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, mental-health disorders, obesity, sleep apnea and and Crohn’s disease, just to name a few, are liable to see a massive increase in rates or a denied coverage altogether, in addition to pregnancy.
     
  • Say what?! Let’s go over that last part one more time for the seats in the back: Pregnancy, as well as being trans, are conditions that pretty much all insurance companies agree are pre-existing, according to Cynthia Cox, Kaiser Permanente’s associate director, which means you could be denied coverage or pay a whole lot more for it, which was not allowed under Obamacare.
     
  • It doesn’t stop there; as Cox notes, there are a whole slew of other conditions that some insurance companies have labeled as “pre-existing” and can thus be grounds for denial of coverage or massive rate spikes as well: acne (which, um...isn’t that pretty much everyone?), asthma, heartburn, postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder (sorry, East Coast-ers).
     
  • But it doesn’t stop there, either! If you have PTSD from sexual assault or you’re the victim of domestic abuse, you could be denied coverage. Yes, this actually happened in the pre-Obamacare era. The message this sends? If you're abused, don’t report it and don’t seek out treatment or else.


Is your blood boiling yet? Now, there’s speculation that this bill is facing an extremely tough battle as it moves to the Senate (and if you didn’t catch the Democrats singing “Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye” on the house floor in speculation that many Republicans up for re-election just signed their death warrant, it’s mildly uplifting). But if there’s any lesson to be learned from the last few months, it’s that nothing is a sure thing.

Another thing we’ve learned over the last few months? Calling your representatives and getting out there to voice your anger really does work. And while those two things have proven to be effective, the brainiacs behind Resistbot have given us another (super easy) option: If you text “Resist” to 50409, you’ll be prompted to enter your zip code, which will identify your two Senators. You’ll then be prompted to write them a message, which will be turned into a fax and sent to their offices, with an option to reach out to additional representatives in subsequent days. It really is that easy. Resistbot will confirm that your message went through and then send you a copy of the actual fax that an actual human in their office will have to physically deal with.

Resistbot is designed to unlock more features the more you use it, eventually helping you to send physical mail or call your representatives. It’s incredibly easy to use and crazy fast. And while it’s true that Resistbot, conversational as she/he/it is, is only a bunch of coding on the inside, it’s reassuring to know that a whole bunch of actual humans--co-founder Jason Putorti, a designer for AngelList, and a number volunteers, a number of whom work for Twilio--have put so much of their time and energy into creating a free, accessible tool for the resistance. Donate to Resistbot here.

-Deena Drewis

 
Deena Drewis