McAuliffe on proposed Cassidy-Graham healthcare bill

On "Meet the Press", Senator Bernie Sanders was asked about his new Medicare for All bill, and the continuing Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Republicans control the Senate 52-48.

"They're going nuts. They're going absolutely insane", Graham said.

Graham painted the plan as the antithesis of the single-payer health care bill unveiled by Sen.

"States that expanded Medicaid access to the newly eligible population under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are particularly at risk under this latest bill", Fitch said. Insurers would still have to offer insurance to anyone who applied, but states could obtain federal waivers allowing insurers to charge higher premiums to sick people or to omit some of the benefits they are now required to provide, like maternity care, mental health care or treatment for drug addiction.

And all this is assuming no other Republicans defect, even though Graham-Cassidy includes steep Medicaid cuts - an idea that gave many Republicans serious pause in previous incarnations. Indeed, some non-expansion states will get quite a short-term windfall (the kind most governors care about), before a decline in block-grant funding and then the overall Medicaid per capita cap that Graham-Cassidy borrowed from earlier GOP proposals kick in, making life hard for all states. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said he would vote against it, arguing that it does not go far enough in repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The good news is that for technical reasons of parliamentary procedure, Graham-Cassidy has to pass by the end of this month, or not at all.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who cast the deciding vote in late July to defeat a separate Obamacare repeal plan, tweeted this summer that he would "support whatever healthcare plan (Ducey) believes is best for the people of #Arizona". "It is his dream and that's where Democrats are going".

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With the proposed block grant, Cassidy said, "we equalize how much each American receives toward her care, irrespective of where she lives".

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., has spoken positively about the bill, as has Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. For instance, the last Senate version of a healthcare bill would have left an estimated 22 million fewer Americans without health insurance, just one million people fewer than the House's version of the bill. The repeal of the mandates could also result in a death spiral, and states could lose $300 billion in federal health care funding.

"Of course block grants are much better than the other way of doing things, having the money be allocated by Washington", McMaster said. Some Republicans from states that lose money under the block grant could balk.

Graham and Cassidy would distribute federal block grant funds to the states using a complex formula that, like any such formula, creates winners and losers.

President Donald Trump has been telephoning members of Congress in recent days urging action on dismantling Obamacare. After July's embarrassing Senate setback, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he'd not revisit it unless he was assured he had the votes to succeed, and many Republicans began refocusing on another big GOP priority, a tax overhaul.

Heritage Action for America, which organized years of repeal rallies, echoed Paul's worry that the bill would leave the ACA's basic structure in place.

  • Megan Austin