A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News, 9/20/17
Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, are jamming through a bill that is a wolf in states rights clothing. It will eat alive your ability to buy affordable health insurance and eventually cripple Medicaid.To beat the September 30 deadline to pass bills through the budget reconciliation process, the two Senators are making a last ditch efforts to kill/replace Obamacare. Budget reconciliation permits the Senate to pass repeal-replace Obamacare legislation with 51 instead of 60 Senate votes that would need some Democrats to join in.
Graham/Cassidy would give states block grants to administer Obamacare. These block grants are designed to take federal money from blue states who have expanded Medicaid and directs the funds to red states. It is a strategy to overcome red states opposition that sank the prior bill. It a) does not repeal or replace Obamacare: it reduces funding by a third and changes the way money is distributed; b) would leave millions without health insurance . It has not yet been "scored" by the Congressional Budget Office that to estimates costs and impact,. c)It would lead to the collapse and affordability of whatever insurance is left since it removes mandates of healthy individuals and businesses to participate and provide health insurance, leaving mostly the expensive to treat sick in the pool. d) It would hasten the single payer system due to its failure and and causing suffering and harm, making even Medicare for All look even better; e) destroys federal Medicaid and federal block grants by 2026, leaving states to shoulder the costs.f) It removes essential benefit requirements including coverage of preexisting conditions.
Graham/Cassidy has never gained much traction until now. It has been on the Senate table during the summer so that it has had some scrutiny. While its impact has never been scrutinized by the Congressional Budget Office, other green eye shade authoritative non-profit groups did in July. Digging into it the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that the Graham-Cassidy plan would There are some temporary fixes to Obamacare being examined by Congressional committees now. The Kasich/Hickenlooper repair bill now in a Senate committee would retain mandates for Americans to buy health insurance but would give tax exemptions for insurers that offer plans in underserved counties and give them access to existing federal plans and create a reinsurance program, propping up and stabilizing the insurance market to keep premiums from soaring..
That Bernie Sanders and large number of Democratic Senators have signed on to his Medicare for All is significant. While it has no chance of gaining 60 votes to pass, it is now a serious alternative that is on the table and close to becoming a Democratic party platform plank in the near future. The more GOP legislation takes insurance away from those who need it, the more likely the public will turn to single payer. However, in the process many people will be harmed and will suffer. Democrats should beware that the GOP is trolling, hoping to split the party over the issue by putting Sander's plan as a bogey man, a "horrible" plan (per Pres. Trump's press person). In the short term, Democrats will only feed success of the truly horrible Graham-Cassidy bill if they tie themselves in knots over the issue.