Today GOP Senators Graham and Cassidy are introducing a bad health care bill. The legislative vehicle that Republicans were trying to use for TrumpCare expires September 30, so they’re trying to squeeze it through. The Senate had also committed to a bipartisan process with hearings—based on our community activism—and this process is expected to produce a bipartisan bill to improve and stabilize the ACA marketplaces. But, Graham/Cassidy will destroy the kumbaya.
Senator John McCain, who opposed TrumpCare in July, said that he would support Graham-Cassidy. If all other Republicans hold, that would give Mitch McConnell the 50 votes plus Vice President Pence’s tie breaker that he needs to jam TrumpCare through the Senate.
Graham-Cassidy is strikingly similar to earlier TrumpCare bills. While we have not seen final details, we know it still destroys Medicaid as we know it by fundamentally and permanently transforming the program into a per-capita cap. Remember, limiting how much federal money states have to spend on Medicaid limits coverage, access, and states’ options when more people need coverage. For example, if we had a per-capita cap system now and Hurricane Harvey hit, Texas might be out of federal Medicaid money for the year. And they’d be out of luck if more people need Medicaid because of the hurricane damages.
The bill also undermines protections for people with pre-existing conditions and people who need treatment for opioid abuse by allowing states to waive essential health benefits.
Two new but damaging approaches this bill would take:
- Block Grants and Cuts the Federal Money Given to States
The proposal would take all of the money going out the door to help people afford and access insurance and bundle it into one “block grant” given to states. This “block grant” includes money for the Medicaid expansion and marketplace subsidies while also deeply cutting the total amount of money. Then, it only allows the block grants to grow at 2%, a far slower growth rate than medical costs grow. And to top it all off, there is virtually no accountability for how this money is spent.
- Redistributes this block grant to favor red states that did not expand access and coverage for their residents by punishing states that did:
This provision is about politics not policy. Senator Cassidy said: “Let a blue state do a blue thing and a red state such as mine take a different, conservative approach.” This is not what would happen under his bill. Graham-Cassidy literally takes money from states that expanded Medicaid and gives it to states that did not. There are other factors in the Graham-Cassidy formula that then tilt the limited funds toward red states (such as distributing some of the block grant based on population density) in order to try to appease states like West Virginia whose Senators are key swing votes.
3.The ACA has been successful in California, and that doesn’t sit well with these Senators. This isn’t hyperbole. They are really out to kill healthcare in California – Check this out.
So, call our Senators. Let them know we’re watching, and while you’re at it, ask what they plan to do. Say something like:
I just heard about the Graham/Cassidy amendment to the ACA. Is the Senator committed to fighting it?
Senator Kamala Harris