Update on Graham-Cassidy: Looming Threat to Healthcare

Mitch McConnell says he won’t go through the embarrassment of another floor vote unless he can count 50 votes. Good news is that Rand Paul has declared he won’t vote for this one. If McCain, Murkowski, and Collins hold firm — or if we only lose one — we’ll be ok. But Collins has shown some wavering in favor of block grants earlier in the year. And McCain may find cover to say the bill has met his conditions in that the Senate Finance Committee says it would hold a hearing next week. (Note that the bill has been referred to the Finance Committee, not to the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Logical if you think providing healthcare is providing a mere commodity and not an essential life-giving human right.)

Cassidy-Graham is in many ways as bad as — or worse than — previous repeal bills that have failed to pass Congress this year. It would repeal both the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and the subsidies that help people purchase coverage through the insurance marketplaces, replacing them with a deeply insufficient block grant that would disappear entirely in 2027. It would allow states to eliminate or weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions, enabling insurers to once again charge higher premiums based on health status and exclude essential health benefits. And it would cap and cut the underlying Medicaid program (on top of ending the Medicaid expansion), threatening coverage for tens of millions of people with disabilities, seniors, and families with children. Yet the process that Congress would take to pass the bill would be designed to hide the damaging impact of those changes. (Source: Rushed Senate Consideration of Cassidy-Graham Would Be Designed to Hide Bill’s Severe Flaws, Center for Budget Policies and Priorities)  And, here’s a graphic explainer:  Graham-Cassidy Explainer)

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says it will provide “estimates” of some financial impacts of Graham-Cassidy by early next week, but that it cannot provide estimates for loss of insurance coverage or increases in premium costs. Source: CBO Aims to Provide Preliminary Assessment of Graham-Cassidy by Early Next Week.  Nonetheless, McCain may use what estimates CBO provides to fudge the fact that he’s voting for without full information of the human cost of this monstrosity.

It’s imperative that we keep calling and writing McCain to tell him we are on to his game: We are watching to make sure he stands by the position he espoused so eloquently in July.

Contact info for Senator McCain here.

See our Action Alert for scripts here.

Further Update:Republican leaders have decided to freeze this bipartisan approach and are trying to slam through a partisan Trumpcare bill.” McConnell ordered Lamar Alexander to shut-down the productive talks in the Senate Health Committee, which after days of hearings were honing in on a bipartisan plan to shore up the insurance exchanges. Senator Patty Murray, the Democratic leader in these talks, said: “

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