Graham-Cassidy Bill Should Not Replace Obamacare – The Bill’s Implications for the Future of Healthcare

James Cantu

September 27th, 2017

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks to reporters outside the US Senate Chamber following the Republican weekly luncheon caucus in the US Capitol on Sept. 19, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Looking on from the right is U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy. (Ron Sachs/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)

Allowing the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill to pass and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) would be a step backwards in achieving affordable, comprehensive health care for all Americans.

The Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill is a piece of legislation sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana. In order to replace the Affordable Care Act, the Senate must get 60 votes for it to pass by the end of this month.

There are two Senators who refuse to vote “yes” on the bill, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Kentucky, and John McCain, R-Arizona.

Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are still undecided, but have voted “no” on previous Affordable Care Act repeal efforts.

Although the Affordable Care Act does have its faults and needs revision, the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill is not a suitable alternative. The bill’s implications would do more harm to Americans than good.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would allow the states to design their own healthcare systems by using the money made from keeping the Affordable Care Act tax structure in place, in the form of block grants.

The funding given to states in the form of block grants are inadequate. It would not be adjusted based on need, and it would be phased out by 2026.

For example, the Rust Belt states that helped Trump reach the Presidency–Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado, and Michigan– would lose a total of 29 billion dollars worth of federal funding under the new bill.

The bill also does not guarantee for financial assistance for low-to-moderate income buyers or offer coverage for those who have pre-existing medical conditions.

It would allow individual states to get rid of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that those with pre-existing conditions can not be charged more by insurance companies, and that all insurers must cover certain essential health benefits.

That means services like maternity care, emergency services, and birth control benefits are up to the discretion of the state, who has only a two-year timeframe to implement and enforce a working healthcare policy.

It is a job that the federal government couldn’t complete, so now they are passing the burden onto the states. This burden is only enhanced by cutting funding for states who did try to make the Affordable Care Act work, while reapportioning the money to states who resisted giving coverage to lower-income families.

The bill’s contents would result in over 21 million people who could go without healthcare, according to a Brookings Institute study.

According to Brookings’ analysis, they estimate that, “15 million to 18 million more Americans would be without coverage by 2020 and that 32 million would be without coverage in 2027.”

Families, and individuals, should not have to choose between a lifetime of debt or receiving proper medical treatment. If passed, by 2018, the number of uninsured Americans would raise by 15 million and individual market premiums by 20 percent.

The instability that results from introducing block grants in 2020 would only be increased when they are phased out in 2027. Insurers would most likely place high premiums as each state works to create a working healthcare model using the grants, only for the model to go under revision as the grants are phased out.

According to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, “In both the near and long term, the disruption caused by Cassidy-Graham would thus result in large individual market coverage losses on top of those directly resulting from the bill’s marketplace subsidy cuts.”

Loss of coverage for the average American and the instability it would cause in the marketplace and political sector proves that it is not a fitting bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.

James Cantu

Opinion Editor

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