The Healthcare Hail Mary: With Clock Counting Down, ACA Foes Have One Last Play

By Stacie Murphy, Policy Director

Because they just can’t let go of a terrible idea, it’s starting to look as though Republicans in the Senate might take one more shot at repealing the Affordable Care Act.

I’m tired just thinking about it, but, just like every other time, the consequences are so dire that we can’t afford to ignore the threat.

After the spectacular implosion of their last attempt, Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) began quietly working on their own version of repeal.

They introduced the legislation earlier this week, and in a word? It sucks.

It eliminates all the things that make the ACA work, and instead gives limited grants to the individual states to run whatever kind of health care program they want, with essentially no requirements for who to cover or what kinds of services are required. It also does nothing to account for rising health care costs.

The Congressional Budget Office has not yet released a score for the legislation, but since it has several provisions in common with previous bills, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities was able to use previous CBO scores to do some analysis of Graham-Cassidy.

Their findings?

  • 32 million Americans would lose their health insurance over the next 10 years.
  • Americans would lose $250 billion in funding help by 2026; after that it ends completely
  • It would end the Medicaid expansion—eliminating coverage for 11 million low-income Americans.

For complicated technical reasons that aren’t especially relevant here, if Republicans want to be able to pass the bill with 50 votes (plus a tie-breaker from Mike Pence), they have to do it by September 30th. Graham and Cassidy hope that the threat of the deadline will move their caucus to support the bill, even if they aren’t thrilled about some parts of it.

“It’s this or nothing” may not be a particularly inspirational slogan, but the two senators hope it is a motivating one.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told Sens. Graham and Cassidy that once they’d rounded up the 50 votes, he’d bring it to the floor. They aren’t there yet.

We’ve got to make sure they don’t get there. This would be a great time to make a quick call to your senators to tell them you’re watching.

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