As the U.S. Senate leadership worked behind closed doors on a health care bill, AARP unveiled a new Charlie the squirrel video urging lawmakers to end the secrecy around legislation that will affect millions of people. This time, the furry social media star is squeaking out in protest against the cone of silence and demanding that the Senate reveal the legislation.
“Senate leadership has said they want to vote on a bill by the end of the month, without holding hearings or releasing the bill in advance,” says AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “The American people deserve more.”
Charlie made his video debut prior to the U.S. House of Representatives voting narrowly last month in favor of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). His squeaks of concerns about the “age tax” the bill would impose on older Americans made a splash on social media, and the video was shared widely.
Now Charlie is back, railing against the Senate’s “do not disturb” method of legislating. In the video, Charlie’s lumberjack friend opens a briefcase the squirrel brought back from Capitol Hill purporting to contain details of every hearing and debate on the Senate bill. It turns out the briefcase is empty.
“What about all the bad stuff in it like the age tax, the cuts to Medicaid, dropping support for preexisting conditions, and billions in tax breaks for drug and health insurance companies?” the lumberjack asks. “Surely that can’t still be in the latest draft, can it?”
The video urges viewers to call their senators to demand that the health care bill be debated in public. It is the same message that AARP is pushing with eight other organizations in a four-state tour that kicked off June 15. The “Protect Patients First” group, which includes patients, advocacy groups, the American Medical Association and others, asks the Senate to start fresh with new legislation that provides affordable and accessible health care coverage for everyone. The next stop on the tour is Reno, Nev., on June 21.