Graham-Cassidy is the worst healthcare bill yet

  
Photo: ABC
Photo: ABC

As Congress works its way through a packed September agenda, yet another attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is gaining momentum. Unfortunately, this legislation – like similar bills that have come before it – has chosen to leave nurses out of the process, and as a result would leave too many patients without the care they need.

As we’ve previously addressed, legislation sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would make drastic and dangerous cuts to the American healthcare system by repealing Medicaid expansion starting in2020, eliminating the critical Prevention and Public Health Fund, and creating high-risk pools for individuals with pre-existing conditions (effectively removing ACA-implemented essential health benefit protections for those patients), among other misguided policies.

The block grants to states that Graham-Cassidy would use to replace the ACA would also continue to shrink before, in 2026, disappearing entirely, leading to even more cuts. In other words, the legislation goes further than what was proposed this summer – which at its worst was projected by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to cause up to 32 million Americans to lose their coverage.

Meanwhile, the process surrounding the bill continues to fall well short of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) repeated calls for a return to regular order. While the Senate Finance committee has planned a single hearing around Graham-Cassidy, the CBO will not have time to fully score the legislation, meaning it will remain unclear how many patients would have their care stripped away as a result.

Criticism of the bill is widespread: on Tuesday, Democratic, Republican, and independent governors from Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia released a letter announcing their opposition, writing that, “Only open, bipartisan approaches can achieve true, lasting reforms.”  And as with the so-called Affordable Health Care Act and Better Care Reconciliation Act, no Democratic senators have announced their support for Graham-Cassidy, with conservative Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) also expressing skepticism that he’ll be a yes vote if and when it comes to the floor.

Regardless of the current whip count, which is constantly evolving, the stakes are too high to count on another dramatic late night vote that saves the day. Don’t wait: click here to be connected with your Senators and urge them to vote no on Graham-Cassidy. In the absence of real dialogue, nurses’ voices are needed now more than ever.

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Author: Matthew Fitting

Matthew Fitting is an Advocacy and Engagement Specialist with the American Nurses Association.

4 thoughts on “Graham-Cassidy is the worst healthcare bill yet”

  1. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is one of this bill’s four sponsors, and one of my two US senators. You can find a press release on his .gov site, dated 9/14, where he announces the bill and leans heavily on “states’ rights” w/r/t federally funded programs. His other heath care concerns have a common theme, similar to this bill.

    For those of us in this situation, who have a senator co-sponsoring the bill, what do we do? Admittedly I have no prior working relationship with Senator Johnson, and I am a novice in these matters.

  2. This is absolutely so far from the truth! People are being left without insurance every single day on Obamacare. Come on, this is the best plan yet! Julie, RN

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