Those who thought the Trumpcare implosion in July ended the healthcare fight will be sorely disappointed this week. Like a revived zombie, another Obamacare repeal has been introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) with all the same provisions that Americans hated.
Various necessary benefits are still taken away. According to the New York Times, the bill guts the Medicaid expansion, which was implemented in 31 states. It jeopardizes women by banning federal funding for Planned Parenthood and removes protections for maternity care. And of course, it takes away subsidies for America’s poorest citizens.
But that’s not the worst of it. The proposal also comes with new, insidious strings attached.
“[Though] it would still require insurers to provide coverage to everyone, it would allow carriers to charge enrollees more based on their medical history,” CNN Money reported on the weakened protections for pre-existing conditions. “Sicker Americans could find themselves priced out of policies.”
Another difference between the Graham-Cassidy bill and Trumpcare is the addition of a block grant. Replacing the Medicaid expansion, the block grant would be given to states and they would not be required to spend the money on low-income families.
Graham justified the lack of federal oversight by saying, “I believe that most Republicans like the idea of state-controlled health care, versus Washington, D.C.-controlled health care.” President Donald Trump supported his sentiment in a tweet on Wednesday.
I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to States!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
However, their argument crumbles in two different ways.
First, the block grant is a fixed amount, meaning states with larger populations would have far less money to spend per capita. New York, for example, would lose $18.9 billion under the Graham-Cassidy bill. The block grant guarantees that healthcare is not created equally among the states.
More importantly, this bill actually takes away choice from the states. According to the Intercept, the bill bars states from instituting single-payer healthcare, which would cover medical services for all citizens. Not only does this undermine the notion that congressional Republicans want to give the states more control on this issue, this is a petty way for Republicans to hinder progressive activism on healthcare.
Right now, Republican senators like Dean Heller (R-Ariz.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are desperate to pass this legislation by the end of the month, before reconciliation expires. Under reconciliation, the bill would only need a simple-majority rather than 60 votes.
Republican leadership consider this their last chance at a legislative victory. Politico reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would ram this bill, “hoping that a looming Sept. 30 deadline to pass the bill with just 50 votes will create enough pressure.”
The passage of this legislation is unlikely as it contains many of the same provisions which kept Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) from voting. Though the pressure is high, these senators are not up for re-election in 2018. If these senators were to vote for this bill, they would face the wrath of the 20 million constituents who needed the Affordable Care Act.
Photo Credit: The Atlantic