In a last ditch effort to kill the Affordable Care Act, Senator Mitch McConnell plans to bring the Graham-Cassidy bill to the floor for a vote next week. The bill, which is sponsored by Senators Lindsay Graham (SC) and Bill Cassidy (LA), would gut Medicaid, as well as the tax credits that help people buy health insurance and the health-insurance protections that the ACA gives consumers.
At least three Republican senators must oppose the bill to ensure that it does not become law. Senators are expected to vote on the bill by September 30.
What should you know about Graham Cassidy?
Graham-Cassidy in a Nutshell
Here’s what Graham-Cassidy does:
- Dramatically slashes Medicaid spending. Today, about 11 million older adults and people with disabilities rely on Medicaid to supplement Medicare. Medicaid may cover Medicare premiums and copays, and the cost of nursing home care. In fact, Medicaid currently picks up the cost of nursing care for about 75 percent of older people. And, in many states, Medicaid also covers other long-term services and supports. In some states, it may also pay for hearing, vision and dental care.
- Sets a federal per-person spending cap for almost all Medicaid enrollees.
- Ends insurance subsidies for people with low incomes and eliminates insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Insurers could charge people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums and would not have to sell them policies that cover essential benefits.
- It would block grant some federal Affordable Care Act funds to the states beginning in 2020 through 2026. By 2027, it would end those funds completely.
What the Experts Say
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projects that Graham-Cassidy will leave millions more people uninsured. It projects federal spending cuts on Medicaid alone of $243 billion between 2020 and 2026.
Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington would see 35 to almost 60 percent cuts in federal funding for their Medicaid programs and ACA premium assistance.
By 2036, according to Avalere, federal funding cuts to states could top $4 trillion. States would be hard-pressed to fill these funding gaps. States that have passed Medicaid expansion and/0r that have more residents receiving insurance premium assistance would see the largest federal funding cuts.
BecauseGraham-Cassidy sets a federal per-person spending cap for mostl Medicaid enrollees, states would be forced to either cut Medicaid benefits and/or restrict Medicaid eligibility further and/or cut other programs and/or raise taxes.
The AARP, American Hospital Association, American Medical Associatio, among many other organizations oppose the bill because it will leave millions uninsured. Of course, Graham-Cassidy also eliminates the ACA mandate that everyone have health insurance.
The Congressional Budget Office will weigh in shortly on the implications of the Graham-Cassidy bill.
A version of this article, “What you should know about Graham-Cassidy bill,” was first published at JustCareUSA.org. Opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Senior Planet or OATS.