Senate Republicans are closer than ever to replacing Obamacare.
As I wrote in a previous article, the Graham-Cassidy proposal features block grants that would essentially allow states to do whatever they want with their healthcare money.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Republican Senators Bill Cassidy (LA), Lindsey Graham (SC), Ron Johnson (WI), and Dean Heller (NV), would put an end to these AVA provisions:
• Tax credits
• Medicaid expansion
• Mandate to purchase coverage
• Requirement that employers offer coverage
• Taxes on medical devices and over-the-counter medications
Graham-Cassidy would require all insurance plans to accept applicants regardless of previous health conditions, but would not require states to cover a certain percentage of low-income people.
“We are thinking that we can get this done by September 30th,” said Cassidy.
Republicans don’t have much time left to pass the bill. They have only until the end of the month to take advantage of the reconciliation process to pass a bill with a simple majority vote. After that, they will be vulnerable to a Democratic filibuster.
Cassidy has hinted that he has “48 or 49” of the 50 votes he needs to pass the bill, using Vice President Mike Pence as tie-breaker. Senator Graham insists he has the support of at least 14 state governors.
Republicans are still smarting from their failure to repeal Obamacare in July and many things will have to go right for Cassidy’s bill to pass. They are still waiting on an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office – a report that could potentially deter some Republicans.
Kentucky Republican Rand Paul and Maine Republican Susan Collins have already expressed opposition to the bill. Paul argues the plan leaves too much of the ACA in place, and Collins says she has reservations about how the proposal would affect her state.
Even so, the majority of Senate Republicans seem to be on board. “I’m pretty confident we’ll get there on the Republican side,” said Cassidy. “We are shooting for the 30th. If not, we’ll take it to the next vehicle.”
According to a recent poll by Politico, over 50% of Republicans consider it “extremely important” that Congress passes healthcare reform by the end of the month. President Trump has suggested he is ready to sign.
More about Bill Cassidy
Bill Cassidy, MD, was elected to the Senate in 2014. Before that, he worked as a doctor specializing in liver disease.
Cassidy is a member of the Senate committee that oversees Medicaid, Medicare, and Obamacare. He has long been a critic of Medicaid’s poor health outcomes.
In January, Cassidy joined Susan Collins and two others in a proposal that would have given states the option to use Obamacare funds to develop a market-based alternative using health savings accounts. The proposal was not a success.
Now, Cassidy insists that his current proposal would give some states the ability to maintain Obamacare if that’s what they want to do. “We need to let states take care of themselves and give power back to patients. Let a blue state do a blue thing and a red state such as mine take a different, conservative approach.”
As reported by Forbes Magazine, some blue states would likely respond to Graham-Cassidy by adopting a single-payer system similar to what Bernie Sanders sought during his failed run for president.
Editor’s note: I have said many times, eventually this will get done. It is too important to the Republican agenda to not happen.