Bill Cassidy Responds To Jimmy Kimmel By Doubling Down On The Dishonesty

Senator Bill Cassidy’s exchange begins at the 2:10 mark.

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Hours after a brutal takedown at the hands of late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) went on television Wednesday to respond.

But with literally his first sentence, Cassidy did the very thing that had drawn Kimmel’s ire: The senator made wildly misleading claims about his controversial bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“There will be more people covered under the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson amendment than are under status quo and we protect those with pre-existing conditions,” Cassidy said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

That statement, similar to one Cassidy also made on CNN, is virtually impossible to defend. The Graham-Cassidy proposal, which Republicans are rushing to take up for a floor vote next week, calls for reducing federal spending on health care through two sets of changes.

First, the bill would convert the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion money into a set of direct grants to states ― grants that would start in 2020 and, critically, would expire after 2026. Second, the bill would make a permanent change to Medicaid financing, affecting even parts of the program serving traditional Medicaid groups like poor children and the disabled. Over time, that change would reduce Medicaid’s funding relative to current law.

By design, the sum total of all those state grants would be less than the federal government would spend on health care if the Affordable Care Act remained in place. The difference would be $215 billion, from 2020 through 2026, according to a study from Avalere Health that happened to go public on Wednesday morning. Previous estimates, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, suggested the funding decline would be even greater.

After that, the cuts would get much larger, because of the expiration of those state grants. Between 2026 and 2036, one decade later, the reduction in expected federal spending on health care would be more than $4 trillion, Avalere found. 

Cassidy has said Congress would likely reauthorize the program’s spending before it expires, but there are no guarantees it would. At that point, the parliamentary and political obstacles to making such a new expenditure would be considerable, while the uncertainty of ongoing federal support would likely lead states to shrink their own programs beforehand.

Avalere also broke out the…

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