How cruel and inhumane can a piece of legislation get?
The latest Republican proposal to repeal health care – yes, GOP leaders are at it again – takes us to a new low, with a revised version of repeal analysts are calling even more damaging than a “repeal-without-replace.”
Republican leaders in the Senate are making a last-ditch effort to pass legislation that will throw tens of millions of us off coverage – and they want to do it before September 30, so they can get away with repealing our care with only 50 votes.
And they’re gunning for that deadline with their worst repeal bill to date.
The main sponsors of this new bill, Sen. Bill Cassidy and Sen. Lindsay Graham, have been busy pitching their legislation as a friendlier, more moderate health care repeal than the package the GOP tried and failed to pass in July.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Their new bill cuts health coverage across the board, way beyond the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This legislation starves the entire Medicaid program, which has been in place since 1965, through per-person funding caps that will translate into incredible suffering.
For example, people with disabilities could lose home health services they use to live independently.
The legislation punishes people with pre-existing conditions. Insurers may be able to once again jack up premiums based on health status, meaning a person with metastatic cancer could be hit with a surcharge of as much as $142,650. Insurers also could cut out essential benefits like maternity care.
This repeal is a ticking time bomb. Cassidy-Graham ends Medicaid’s expansion, and eliminates subsidies for individual coverage, replacing them with smaller block grants to states that come with no guarantee of coverage – and then disappear entirely after ten years.
And the cuts to Medicaid would get even steeper by 2025.
Every state loses. There’s been talk of some states “winning” and some states “losing” under the Cassidy-Graham bill. But every state will lose big once the legislation’s time bomb goes off in ten years – and that means tens of millions of people losing health care, no matter where they live.
Virtually everyone who’s taken a close look at this bill thinks it’s a disaster. Fitch Ratings deems it “more disruptive for most states than prior Republican efforts,” and says it could hurt not just health care but schools and colleges, too. The American College of Physicians, America’s Essential Hospitals, and others have issued statements opposing the legislation.
In all, it’s estimated the bill will strip coverage from 32 million people. So, it’s no wonder Republican leadership wants to push the bill through, before the Congressional Budget Office can complete a full official analysis. But, even without CBO analysis, we know what we’re fighting against – and what we’re fighting for.
Little more than a year ago, Louisiana – the state Bill Cassidy represents – expanded Medicaid, finally extending coverage to more than 433,000 Louisianans who’d previously been shut out from health care.
That was a huge step forward, and one Louisianans fought hard to win. Patients reportedly cried with relief when they found out they could get the health care they needed so desperately, after going without for so many years.
Cassidy’s bill will now destroy any guarantee of coverage for them, which makes his push for this bill, which he knows will harm his own constituents, unconscionable. But he’s not alone. With so much at risk, the GOP leadership’s sudden race toward the September 30 deadline is unfathomably reckless.
Outrage over GOP leaders’ reckless disregard for our lives has fueled opposition to their bid to repeal health care ever since they began stumbling towards this heartless goal back in January.
So far, the GOP has used a patchwork of secrecy, lies, and strong-arming tactics to jam a bill – seemingly, any bill – through Congress, as long as it funnels dollars away from care and upward to rich donors and corporations.
We’ve held back this bid for more than eight months. Along the way, we’ve seen increasing public enthusiasm for protection of health care as a public good, and growing agreement that health care should be recognized as a right for all.
If we’re terrified of losing everything, the GOP is terrified, too. They see that support for a more coherent and humane vision of health care is growing. That’s why they’re dead-set on defunding, breaking and eliminating as much of our health care system as they can, before it’s too late for them.
They’re worried that in the long run, we will win.
And we will. But to win, we have to keep fighting.
So, let’s beat back this worst-ever health care repeal – and let’s keep fighting until we win health care for everyone. Call the Senate now at 888-981-9704 and tell them to vote NO! on Cassidy-Graham.
By Julie Chinitz
Julie Chinitz is a lead writer for People’s Action.