Inside Graham-Cassidy, the last minute push by Senate Republicans to resuscitate Obamacare repeal

Congressional Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare appeared to come to a standstill in July, after Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona., cast a “no” vote on the Senate floor, rejecting a bill backed by Senate Republican leadership.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan suggested that week they would turn their attention to tax reform. But Monday those efforts to fulfill a signature campaign promise sprung back with considerable momentum as several lawmakers expressed support for a new repeal and replace bill, spearheaded by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

Introduced last week, Graham described the bill as Republicans’ last hope for rolling back President Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act.

“If you believe repealing and replacing Obamacare is a good idea, this is your best and only chance to make it happen,” said Graham last week at a press conference.

The bill is also sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

With 52 Republican Senators in Congress, the Graham-Cassidy bill can only afford to lose two Republican votes.

Here’s what to know about the proposal:

The Graham-Cassidy plan

The Graham-Cassidy plan proposes distributing some federal funding currently available under the Affordable Care Act directly to states in the form of block grants. From 2020 to 2026, states would receive a set amount of federal funding to be used at their discretion for health care coverage, but cost-sharing subsidies the federal government pays to insurance companies to lower the cost of some plans on the individual insurance markets and money some states receives to expand their Medicaid rolls would go away.

The 31 states that applied for Medicaid expansion funding under the Affordable Care Act would see that money rolled back and eventually cut off. Graham and Cassidy say their plan would help balance Medicaid funding across the country, but Democrats say states with large Medicaid populations would struggle to provide coverage to their populations. Spending on Medicaid would be done per capita, meaning that less populous states like Maine and Alaska–home to two Senators currently on the fence about the plan–might struggle to foot the bill.

The plan would repeal two key parts of Obamacare, the individual and employer mandates, and states could apply for waives to alter what counts as an “essential health benefit” for insurance companies as they…

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