WASHINGTON—Back in January, the First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC) signed a letter with other major child advocacy groups urging Congress to adopt principles to ensure any legislative process improves the health of our nation’s children and, at the very least, commits to “do no harm.”

Fortunately, at 1:39 a.m. this morning, the Senate voted 49-51 to defeat the “Health Care Freedom Act” (HCFA), an 11th hour amendment offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at the close of debate. This Senate health care bill would have resulted in an estimated 16 million Americans losing health coverage and a 20 percent increase in insurance premiums.

That is the opposite of progress and, consequently, the First Focus Campaign for Children strongly opposed the bill.

It is also important to note that, even prior to the defeat of HCFA, the Senate was unable to find 50 votes to impose the hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicaid cuts and caps originally considered by the Senate. Medicaid per capita caps and block grants would have harmed millions of children in every single state across the country.

Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children, said:

“We are glad that, after months of debate and advocacy, the American people rose up to oppose the $880 billion in Medicaid cuts that were approved by the House. That legislative proposal, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), and numerous subsequent drafts of the bill violated the simple critical principle to ‘do no harm’ that the children’s advocacy community called for six months ago.

We thank all the members of the Senate who voted against HCFA, including Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and John McCain (R-AZ).

Moving forward, we call on Congress to heed the call of Senator McCain to go back to the drawing board, pursue regular order, engage stakeholders and experts from across the country, and work toward bipartisan solutions that improve the lives of Americans and not leave people worse off. Too many lives are at stake for Congress to consider moving forward without broad bipartisan agreement and a coherent plan.

We urge Congress to do right by the next generation. Any bill must protect the most vulnerable among us, including low-income children, newborns, foster kids, and children with complex medical conditions — most of whom had nothing to do with Obamacare and, yet, were targeted by the House for cuts and harm.

We call on our nation’s leaders to ensure their actions or votes will improve the health and well-being of children and not make things worse. Again, at the very least, they should agree to always ‘do no harm.'”