GOP Health Care Bill Marches Forward in Senate
The latest plan from the GOP to cap Medicaid and cut expansion is moving in the Senate with a committee hearing and a floor vote by the end of next week. The bill – authored by Senators Graham (R-SC), Cassidy (R-LA), Heller (R-NV) and Johnson (R-WI) – would turn critical federal funding for Medicaid into per capita caps or block grants for states, leaving cash-strapped states with fewer resources for critical care like mental health and addiction services.
While many of the goals of this bill remain the same as the iterations before it, there are brand new provisions as well. The Graham-Cassidy bill aims to:
- Eliminate the ACA’s marketplace subsidies and enhanced match rate for the Medicaid expansion, and replace them with a block grant that would not grow in response to increased enrollment or costs;
- Fundamentally restructure the Medicaid program by converting it from an entitlement program to a per-capita cap;
- Allow states to waive critical ACA protections, including: Essential Health Benefits such as mental health and addiction services, the requirement that insurers cover those with pre-existing conditions, and the ban on charging individuals higher premiums based on age.
In a statement earlier this week, Linda Rosenberg, the president and CEO of the National Council said, “This bill may go by a different name than previous efforts to reshape the health care system, but it maintains—and even worsens—the devastating provisions from those bills that led to a massive constituent outcry earlier this summer.”
THE ROAD AHEAD: VOTING WITHOUT A SCORE
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office announced this week that it will not have enough time to provide a detailed score prior to the September 30th deadline. CBO estimated it would take several weeks to compile a report that details the bill’s practical implications such as the number of people who would lose health coverage, the impact on insurance premiums, and the cost shift to states.
While it remains unclear whether the bill has support of 50 Senators, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) intends to bring it to the floor next week. The Senate has until September 30th to pass health care reform using the fast-track budget reconciliation mechanism.
For months, advocates have written letters, made phone calls and organized to give voice and power to supporters and beneficiaries of Medicaid. With Congress ramping up to vote on this damaging bill next week, advocates must once again rise up and take action! Please continue advocating to protect Medicaid and help ensure that every American has access to high quality mental health and addiction care. Visit our Unite4BH page to get started today.