In a last-gasp effort to push their Affordable Care Act repeal bill over the finish line, Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham issued an amended version over the weekend, sweetening the federal handouts for states of such holdout voters as Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Kentucky's Rand Paul. What may be of more interest to Americans in all states, however, is that in their revised draft, the sponsors also weakened protections for people with pre-existing conditions even more than did their original version. "If there was any question about Graham-Cassidy's removal of federal protections for pre-existing conditions, this new draft is quite clear," Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation tweeted after its release. Cassidy, of Louisiana, and Graham, of South Carolina, are engaged in a desperate campaign to get their bill passed by Saturday. That's when procedural rules allowing the measure to be passed with only 50 votes (plus a tie-breaker by Vice President Mike Pence, if necessary) expire.
Senate Republicans are preparing to vote on their last-gasp Affordable Care Act repeal bill without estimates from the Congressional Budget Office of its effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums. So someone else has to step in to inform the senators of the measure's grim consequences. Enter Rebekah Gee, the secretary of the Department of Health in Louisiana--which happens to be the home state of the measure's chief sponsor, Sen. Bill Cassidy. In a letter to Cassidy dated Monday, Gee offers chapter and verse on how the bill would cut health coverage for 433,000 of Cassidy's constituents enrolled in Medicaid expansion; eliminate protection for people with pre-existing medical conditions, driving many of them into the "increasingly battered and tattered safety net of public assistance"; and threaten the health of "the unborn and their mothers." Like all the GOP repeal proposals before it, Gee wrote, Cassidy's bill "uniquely and disproportionately hurts Louisiana due to our recent expansion and high burden of extreme poverty."
The reviews keep pouring in for the Senate Republicans' latest (and presumably final) attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and they're uniformly foul. The newest entries came from the National Assn. of Medicaid Directors and from Nevada's Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval. The Medicaid directors observed that the measure would force states to completely remake their Medicaid programs within two years, a task that the "vast majority" would find impossible. The repeal bill's capping of federal Medicaid funds and conversion of Medicaid and individual market subsidies to block grants "would constitute the largest intergovernmental transfer of financial risk from the federal government to the states in our country's history." Few states, if any, are prepared for the change.
The healthcare consulting firm Avalere on Wednesday released the latest in a series of independent analyses of Senate Republicans' new effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The findings are beyond ugly. They show devastating cuts in healthcare funding for adults, children and the disabled -- in effect, almost every population category in the U.S. other than seniors enrolled in Medicare. Since Senate Republicans appear determined to jam through this repeal measure by Sept. 30 without a relevant scoring by the Congressional Budget Office, outside analyses by experts such as Avalere's are particularly important. The firm's analysis joins a study by the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, number-crunching by David Anderson of Duke University, and others.
What are the sticking points in the GOP's latest effort to overturn Obamacare, the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill? Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the fourth GOP senator to announce she will not vote for Republicans' last-ditch plan to finally repeal ObamaCare – signaling an end to the bill. Collins said Monday that the Graham-Cassidy bill, chiefly written by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, was "deeply flawed." She joins Sens. Rand Paul, John McCain and Ted Cruz in opposition of the legislation – although Cruz reportedly could change his vote if certain adjustments are made to the plan. The Graham-Cassidy bill got some last-minute revisions over the weekend in an effort to garner more support, specifically from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who has not announced her decision.