The clock is ticking on rolling back the Affordable Care Act, and the sense of urgency among some senators is palpable. What were deal breakers in July, may not be deal breakers in September. The lawmakers have 12 days to pass a bill before the legislative process they are using expires.
The new bill that has some momentum on Capitol Hill cuts health-care spending even more deeply and covers fewer people than the July bill. It is being offered by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), and its prospects seem to be improving by the hour. Support for the bill was just signaled by a key Republican governor, Doug Ducey, from Arizona. And some moderate Republican senators who have crucial influence and votes have either signed onto the bill or at least haven’t ruled it out yet. Ducey opposed the July bill and heavily influenced Senator John McCain not to back it. The previous bill was defeated by 7 votes.
To top it all off sources are telling CNN that the White House was also involved in the drafting of the bill and stated the President will sign it.
The bill gaining steam in September could make the worries of the July bill even more acute. The Congressional Budget Office reported that it would release a “preliminary assessment” of the measure next week, but they also said that it would be “at least several weeks” before it can estimate whether people would lose insurance and whether premiums would rise.
The new Graham-Cassidy legislation would drastically remake the Affordable Care Act, giving states virtually complete control over federal money being spent presently on subsidies and Medicaid expansion. It would also give states the freedom to opt out of just about all of the ACA’s regulations for insurers.
There is another element in the Graham-Cassidy legislation that goes much further than the previous plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. It would allow states to opt out of the law’s “essential health benefits,” the baseline services insurers must cover. This means that there would no longer be a foundational prohibition on charging higher premiums to people with preexisting medical conditions.
This September legislation will certainly appeal to most conservatives in the House and Senate. They will be able to make the case to their base that states are being freed from federal mandates and they have a pathway to build a health care system that works best for them. If the moderates join the bandwagon, they will have to side step the Medicaid cuts that they previously stumbled on.
The clock is ticking, the momentum is building, and some senators are feeling more confident. What do you think is going to happen?
Credit: Washington Post