Over the summer, congressional leaders tried again and again to eliminate many of the protections and coverage gains resulting from the Affordable Care Act. They took up bills that would have gutted funding for Medicaid coverage and services and modified insurance protections in ways that would have significantly increased the cost of coverage. Older consumers, people with pre-existing conditions, and those living in high-cost coverage areas would have been disproportionately harmed by these proposals.
Millions of Americans came together to stop these efforts. They understood that passage of this legislation would have caused catastrophic harm to their health and the health of their neighbors, their communities and their local economies.
When those bills failed this summer we were not only relieved, but also hopeful about the prospect of Congress returning to regular order and working together to address some of our nation’s most pressing health care issues. In fact, over the past two weeks, the Senate HELP committee has been holding hearings on how to shore up the individual insurance market. Recently, Governors Hickenlooper and Kasich were joined by six other governors in a bi-partisan call for reasonable reform.
Unfortunately, the Senate now appears to be on a fast track to pass a new bill. Dubbed the “Graham-Cassidy” plan and sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the bill includes most of the problematic provisions in the proposed legislation that was defeated this past summer. The bill only needs 50 votes to pass – with Vice President Pence’s tie-breaking vote — and they are reportedly only a few votes shy of that goal.
What you need to know:
- The bill is on a fast track. It must get through the House and Senate by September 30 if it is to pass as a part of budget reconciliation and avoid the need for 60 votes in the Senate. This is the same rushed and partisan process that they attempted over the summer.
- The bill would take away health care coverage from millions of Americans. It is not clear when the Congressional Budget Office score will come out, or if that score will even include an estimate of coverage losses. Remember, however, that previous efforts to repeal and replace would have resulted in as many 32 million Americans losing health insurance. It is estimated that the Graham-Cassidy bill’s effects would be identical to those of the past efforts to repeal the ACA: 15 million would lose their health care coverage next year alone, and by 2027 it is estimated that at least 32 million would face a loss in coverage.
- The bill would end Medicaid as we know it by eliminating funding for the Medicaid expansion population beginning in December, 2019. It would also institute a per-capita cap on the federal government’s contribution to the program overall, a mechanism that we’ve noted in the past all but guarantees the loss of health care coverage and critical services for millions of Americans.
- The bill seriously threatens coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Similar to the House bill’s “MacArthur amendment,” the Cassidy-Graham bill would let states waive the ACA’s prohibition on charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums as well as its Essential Health Benefit requirements.
What you can do: ACT NOW!
We’re relying on you to once again make your voice heard by calling and emailing Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and telling them that the Graham-Cassidy bill is more of the same nonsense that would profoundly harm Coloradans.
Your actions and advocacy over the summer led to the defeat of the American Health Care Act, BCRA and the other irresponsible repeal efforts put forth by congressional leaders. We’re counting on you to step up once again.
Take action today!
- Senator Michael Bennet: Call (202) 224-5852 or email him.
- Senator Cory Garnder: Call (202) 224-5941 or email him.