On September 30, the budget reconciliation process ends. This means the GOP will no longer have the ability to pass an Obamacare repeal and replace plan on only 51 votes (requiring zero Democratic support in Congress). Beginning in October, the Senate will once again require 60 votes to pass similar legislation.
Like Skynet losing the future war, the GOP is preparing to turn the tide by sending one last terminator back in time… in the form of the Graham-Cassidy health care plan.
Sens. Lindsay Graham and Bill Cassidy originally introduced their plan in mid-July while the Better Care Reconciliation Act held the national spotlight.
After the failures of the BCRA, Obamacare Repeal and Reconciliation Act and the skinny repeal… all bets are now riding on the Graham-Cassidy plan in a last ditch effort to replace Obamacare.
The plan would:
- End the Obamacare subsidies and Medicaid expansion funding, replacing them with a block grant fund (which is $26 billion less than current spending). States would determine how the fund is spent. The grant funding ENDS IN 2026.
- End Medicaid as an open-ended program.
- End Obamacare’s individual and employer mandate.
- Block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding for one year (essentially defunding the health care provider).
- Allow states to determine what essential health benefits are (not a good sign for those suffering with addiction).
- Allow Insurers to charge older customers up to five times more than younger customers (under current law, the limit is three times more).
Under the Graham-Cassidy plan, Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis points out insurers can also charge you more if you or your child gets sick.
The bill essentially becomes ‘repeal and delay’ which the CBO found would result in 32 million Americans without insurance. In comparison, the CBO found 22 million fewer Americans would have insurance under the BCRA.
According to Cassidy, they have 48 to 49 votes supporting the bill.
If you feel assured the three amigos of Sens. Murkowski, Collins and McCain will ride into town to save your health care from El Guapo (as they did in July against the skinny repeal), you shouldn’t be. John McCain has already voiced support for the Graham-Cassidy plan.
However, Senator Rand Paul has said he would not support the bill. Paul’s state of Kentucky and Murkowski’s Alaska are both among the list of states estimated to experience the harshest cuts in federal support. Susan Collins’ Maine is not.
While Obamacare is under attack, Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation for a single-payer health care system. It’s also an incredible waste of time.
Sanders’ bill will never happen under this Congress and what infuriates me is that he fucking knows it:
“Look, I have no illusions that under a Republican Senate and a very right-wing House and extremely right-wing president of the Untied States, that suddenly we’re going to see a Medicare-for-all, single-payer passed. You’re not going to see it. That’s obvious.”
It’s as if you called AAA for a flat tire and they arrived only to hand you a brochure on electric cars.
This is not helping the American citizens who are dangerously close to losing their health care coverage. This is Sanders (disgustingly) maintaining his brand.
It’s incredibly frustrating watching as Democratic Senators climb on to this pipe dream like it’s the last life boat shipping off from the Titanic (which seems more like a desperate attempt to not shun progressive voters in 2018).
This is the time for Democrats to mobilize with a solution to an immediate issue facing our nation, the destruction of our health care system.
House Majority leader Mitch McConnell said in July if the GOP fails to pass legislation repealing Obamacare; then they will have no choice but to assist the markets. Where is the legislation holding him to this?
Rather than chase a unicorn, Bernie Sanders should have introduced a policy which:
- Assists the markets by reinstating the ACA’s reinsurance program (protecting against premium increases). The program expired last year.
- Guarantees funding for cost-sharing subsidies beyond 2019 (a major factor contributing to the current instability of the markets).
- Include a similar stabilization fund as presented in the Senate BCRA bill. However, remove the portion of the Lee-Cruz Amendment which allows insurers access to the funding for non-compliant ACA plans. This funding could also be used to increase credits for younger customers, enticing them to join the marketplace exchanges.
It was public outcry which contributed to ending the GOP’s previous attempts at repealing Obamacare, and it will require the same passion and perseverance to save it again.
Although I posted this link in my previous piece, you cannot only find contact info for your state’s senator here; but also your governor (especially if you have a Republican governor).
The last thing I want to see is another Rose Garden kegger as these chuckleheads celebrate ending health care for millions of Americans.
And somebody please send Sanders on a vacation.
Update 9/18/17: From the Twitter account of Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur:
The CBO has announced it will publish a preliminary assessment of the Graham-Cassidy bill “early next week.”
Update 9/22/17: Sen. John McCain has announced he will vote “no.”