By Katherine Schneider, for the Chippewa Valley Post
If you remember last summer’s furor – and perhaps contributed to it yourself – over the attempts to repeal Obamacare and replace it with block grants, no coverage for pre-existing conditions and caps on services, we’re back to fighting the same bad ideas with a new name.
The Graham-Cassidy (G-C) bill – another effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and gut Medicaid – may be gaining some traction in the Senate. Last week Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, told reporters he believes he has support from 48 or 49 Republican senators, just two or three votes shy of the majority needed to pass this bill.
The Graham-Cassidy proposal would:
- Allow insurers to charge individuals with pre-existing conditions more money for health coverage
- Cap and block grant Medicaid (the equivalent of Medicaid cuts)
- Cut funding for Medicaid expansion
- Cut funding for financial assistance that helps low-wage workers and moderate-income families buy private insurance
- Repeal the ACA individual and employer mandates
This partisan bill undermines the bipartisan marketplace stabilization efforts that were taking place within the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, led by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA).
Proponents of the G-C bill are aiming to pass it as part of the budget reconciliation process for fiscal year 2017, which would allow it to pass with a simple majority (51 votes or more – Vice President Mike Pence is able to cast a tie-breaking vote in the event of a 50-50 outcome). However, the Senate parliamentarian has advised that the budget reconciliation process expires on Sept. 30.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is still in the process of evaluating the cost and impact of this bill. While it plans to have a preliminary analysis completed by next week, the CBO has said it “will not be able to provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks.”
Few congressional hearings have been scheduled to discuss this bill. Voting on this bill without a full CBO analysis and congressional review would be a disservice to the millions of Americans it will impact.
I oppose the Graham-Cassidy proposal and any other bill that cuts, caps, or block grants Medicaid. If you agree, it’s not too late! Please encourage your senators to support bi-partisan efforts to stabilize the healthcare marketplace and improve healthcare for all.
Katherine Schneider is a retired clinical psychologist, author and disability issues advocate. She blogs at http://kathiecomments.wordpress.com.
Editor’s Note: the Chippewa Valley Post would welcome Commentary/Opinion articles presenting a differing viewpoint in regard to the Graham-Cassidy bill.