Harmful Medicaid Cut/ACA Repeal Bill Resurfaces in the Senate

/, Health care, Health Insurance and Reform/Harmful Medicaid Cut/ACA Repeal Bill Resurfaces in the Senate

Some members of the U.S. Senate are making one last-ditch effort to cut Medicaid and repeal the Affordable Care Act.  The Senate has only until September 30 – just about two weeks from now – to pass a repeal bill with only 51 votes, instead of the standard 60-vote threshold.  The approaching deadline has motivated some Senators to take a new look at a bad bill.

The bill is referred to as “Graham-Cassidy” after its primary authors. Despite the new name, the bill has the same harmful features as health care repeal/cut bills that failed earlier this summer. Graham-Cassidy would cause several million people to lose coverage, make deep cuts to Medicaid, increase out-of-pocket costs for consumers, and let states dismantle protections for people with pre-existing conditions.  The bill is currently being evaluated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to get an official determination of what it will cost and how many people will lose coverage. It could come up for a vote in the Senate during the week of September 25.

Here are the key reasons why Graham-Cassidy would be so harmful:

  • It would cut Texas Medicaid deeply. The bill includes deep cuts to the “traditional” Medicaid program that covers low-income children, pregnant women, seniors, and individuals with disabilities in Texas, not just the ACA Medicaid Expansion.  The cuts to Medicaid are similar to those proposed in earlier repeal bills that were rejected on a bipartisan basis because of the incredible harm they would do to both vulnerable populations and the health care system.
  • It would end all Marketplace subsidies that reduce premiums and deductibles for low- and moderate-income people today.  It would return a portion of the funding (cut by 17 percent in 2026) back to states in the form of a temporary and inadequate block grant.  States could spend the reduced funding on any health care purpose with no guarantee of coverage or affordable care for lower-income individuals.
  • It ends block grants entirely after 2026, leaving millions of Americans stranded without a known source of health coverage. We already know from the CBO that repealing the ACA with no replacement (essentially what Graham-Cassidy does in 2027, but Graham-Cassidy also has additional Medicaid cuts) means that 32 million Americans will lose coverage.
  • It would end assurances of protection for people with pre-existing conditions.  Like previous, rejected bills, Graham-Cassidy would let states opt out of key ACA consumer protections that ensure people with pre-existing conditions can’t be charged more and that health insurance policies cover essential benefits – like maternity care, medications, mental health care, and substance use disorder treatment.  

Instead of bringing up another health care repeal/Medicaid cut bill that will harm millions of Americans, Congress should focus on the bipartisan efforts already underway in the Senate to stabilize insurance markets and reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Stable access to affordable health care has always been key to helping Texans thrive, but in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which has disrupted the lives of so many Texans, taking steps to ensure stable access to coverage is even more critical.  We want and expect members of both parties to work together to help people access affordable coverage, not place it even further out of reach.    

For more information on Graham-Cassidy:

·         From CBPP: Like Other ACA Repeal Bills, Cassidy-Graham Plan Would Add Millions to Uninsured, Destabilize Individual Market

·         From CBPP: Cassidy-Graham’s Waiver Authority Would Gut Protections for People with Pre-Existing Conditions

Stacey Pogue joined the center in 2008. She focuses on health policy issues. Before coming to the center, she did health policy and research work with the Medicaid and CHIP Division of the Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Insurance. In 2010 and 2011, she was selected to serve as a funded Consumer Representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Pogue earned a Bachelor of Science in Geography, summa cum laude, from Texas A&M University in 1997 and a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin in 2005.

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