It has been five full weeks of calm in the “repeal/replace” debate for Obamacare. During that time, several bipartisan bills have been introduced with minimal legislative action. However, the Graham Cassidy bill has been gaining momentum as the only last-ditch repeal effort. Although the Congressional Budget Office has said it needs several weeks to provide a full assessment on how this bill will impact Americans, supporters are pushing to get a vote on September 28th in order to meet the September 30th end-of-year fiscal deadline (and last chance to pass a healthcare bill via simple majority rather than with the usual 60 votes). But because the bill goes even farther in slashing funding for healthcare, it is clear that it will leave even more people uninsured than the last legislative effort that failed in July for precisely that reason.
What does the Graham-Cassidy bill do?
The latest health-care compromise resembles the Better Care Reconciliation Act we ardently opposed at the beginning of the summer. But this time, legislators hope to redirect funds from large, urban, and highly populated states to the more rural states who did not expand Medicaid. Not all rural states will receive this redistribution, however. Only a handful of states — most notably those with Republican senators interested in repealing Obamacare — will benefit from this latest attempt at healthcare reform. The bill would also:
- End protections for pre-existing conditions
- Phase out Medicaid expansion to zero by 2027
- Block grant healthcare to states on a per capita basis without increases — and also allow those block grants to EXPIRE in 2026
- Reinstate insurance lifetime caps
- End essential benefits such as:
- Emergency services
- Hospitalization (as for operations and overnight stays)
- Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care (both before and after birth)
- Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
- Prescription drugs
- Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)
- Laboratory services
- Preventive and wellness services
- Chronic disease management
- Birth control
No wonder the Graham-Cassidy bill is receiving increasing opposition from a number of health groups, including: The American College of Physicians, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Family Physicians, The American Osteopathic Association, The American Psychiatric Association, America’s Essential Hospitals and AARP.
Oh, and did we mention that a new Fitch Ratings report shows that the Graham-Cassidy bill could significantly impact state funding for cities and counties and particularly threatens K-12 education and higher learning institutions.
CALL TO ACTION
- Call on your senators to oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill. Utahns will not benefit from this bill. Rather this bill would cause more Utahns to lose benefits than the BCRA. Ask our senators to support a bipartisan effort to expand and not reduce health care to the public. Ask them to put people before party and support legislation that does not force dramatic spending cuts to cities, counties and schools and harm health outcomes for Utahns in the process. Already called? Please keep calling every day until Congress presents us with solutions that make health care better, not worse.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)