Repeal of the Affordable Care Act is back on the agenda, with Republicans suddenly talking about a bill that, until recently, few people in either party had taken all that seriously.
The prospects for the new legislation are murky. The proposal has generated a ton of conversation in political and health policy circles in just the past week, with multiple outlets reporting that leadership is now thinking about floor action before Sept. 30. That’s the magic date when, because of parliamentary rules, Republicans lose their ability to pass repeal with just 50 votes. But much of the chatter is hype from supporters and it’s hard to know how much enthusiasm for the proposal actually exists.
Still, even if the bill’s political fortunes are difficult to pin down, the impact it would have as a law is crystal clear. By dramatically scaling back what the federal government spends on health care and undermining rules designed to guarantee insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, this new proposal would leave millions of Americans struggling to pay their medical bills and to get coverage.
It is, in other words, another shot at full repeal, although its GOP sponsors sometimes suggest otherwise ― and that’s one reason it has escaped heavy scrutiny until now.
A New Bill With The Same Old Devastating Effects On Coverage
Those sponsors are Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina ― an unlikely duo, perhaps, given some of their previous statements about repeal. During the spring and summer, Graham repeatedly criticized his party’s leadership for trying to jam through legislation on a party-line vote, without trying to work with Democrats or going through the usual committee process.
Cassidy, for his part, famously urged his colleagues to pass what he dubbed “the Jimmy Kimmel test” ― a reference to the late-night television host’s impassioned public plea to make sure everybody has access to care, regardless of income or medical condition, after his newborn son was diagnosed with a genetic heart defect. Cassidy’s grandstanding on access to care seemed to make sense, given that previously he had worked with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on a skeletal proposal that he promised would let states keep their versions of “Obamacare” intact if they so chose. “California, New York — you love Obamacare, you can keep it,” Cassidy said.
But when it came time to vote repeal legislation in late July, there was Graham voting…