Graham-Cassidy Bill - What You Need to Know

Okay, so we're back at it again fighting to save healthcare. The Republicans have until September 30th to push this last attempt to repeal Obamacare through the Senate. The reason they're trying to push it through so quickly is because they hope that, by limiting the timeline, they can push otherwise hesitant Republicans to vote yes just to repeal Obama-era legislation. 

So what would happen under this new bill? Good question. When Obamacare was introduced, states were incentivized to include Medicaid expansion. Under the Graham-Cassidy Bill, states that did so, despite seeing huge increases in coverage percentages, would be penalized. 31 states, including D.C., expanded Medicaid under Obamacare. Under Graham-Cassidy, federal funding that was allocated to Medicaid expansion would instead be redistributed into a lump sum that states could use however they want. This means that states who did not participate in Medicaid expansion would be rewarded while states who did would be punished. 

Cost-sharing subsidies would also come to an end in 2020. Reminder: cost-sharing subsidies are how Obamacare helps low-income Americans pay for out-of-pocket medical bills. Graham-Cassidy would instead leave subsidiary funding up to each state individually, rather than having a federal mandate. This means Red states who did not support Obamacare could stop helping their low-income residents pay for medical bills. It also just so happens that many states who benefited from cost-sharing subsidies are red states, so their political representatives are going to take away coverage from citizens who need it most, purely because Obama drafted the legislation. 

Under Obamacare, companies had to provide affordable health insurance to employees and almost all Americans had to pay for health insurance. If these metrics weren't met, companies and individuals were charged fines. Under Graham-Cassidy, these fines would end in 2020. The extermination of the insurance mandate has long been a rallying cry for congressional Republicans. However, they refuse to acknowledge that the Obamacare buy-in mandate served to lower the average cost of health insurance. This was one of the most widely disputed aspects of Obamacare, with some Democrats also saying they didn't feel comfortable with the mandated buy-in, however this mandate promised to lover the average cost of healthcare in less than 10  years, exactly what it has done since its implementation.

Medicaid funding would be capped and determined by states starting in 2020 under the Graham-Cassidy bill. This means that there is only a certain amount of funds each state allocates to helping low-income citizens pay for medical bills. In turn, red states could allocate the funding elsewhere and leave their citizens high and dry while saving the state money and increasing tax cuts for the wealthy. 

Essential health benefits would be redefined under Graham-Cassidy. Currently, states have to provide coverage for 10 essential health benefits. Under Graham-Cassidy, each state would have to apply for waivers that defined what that states' essential health benefits were. That means states could consider things like pregnancy to not be covered as an essential health benefits. Where else they think babies could come from, I'm not sure. 

So, all in all, this new bill is what Republicans are trying to pass as reasonable healthcare because it puts cost management in the hands of each state. Reminder: republicans love to say that states' rights are more important and that federal government needs to lay off. More important reminder: this rarely works in favor of the red states themselves. In short, this bill is a threat to all Americans and cannot pass. 

Greer Clem