The cruel Graham-Cassidy repeal-and-replace the ACA healthcare bill.
Yes, life and death. Because if this bill passes thousands of Americans will die. Let me walk you through it.
If passed, Graham-Cassidy will end up killing sick Americans because it does away with the Obamacare (ACA) requirement to cover pre-existing conditions.
Republicans, including Senators Graham and Cassidy and President Trump keep saying the bill covers pre-existing conditions. That is a lie.
The reasons are a bit complicated involving state exchanges and other esoteric effluvia in the bill but, as the Washington Post boiled it down for us [emphasis is mine],
”...the Cassidy-Graham proposal simply would allow states to waive the ACA’s prohibition against varying premiums based on an individual’s health status.
“Insurance companies would then be free to charge higher premiums to people with preexisting medical conditions.”
In addition, Graham-Cassidy removes premium subsidies and the Medicaid expansion which would leave many who bought health insurance for the first time under Obamacare unable to afford it under the new rules.
There is strong evidence that uninsured people, lots of them, die for want of coverage. As The Guardian recently explained:
”Various studies have looked at whether uninsured people have a higher risk of death. The most cited was published [pdf] by the American Journal of Public Health in 2009 and found that nearly 45,000 Americans die each year as a direct result of being uninsured.”
No one knows the actual cost of Graham-Cassidy - to insureds or the government - because the Congressional Budget Office has informed Congress that it does not have enough time to score the bill before the vote this week.
What we do have, from the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy project, is an analysis that seeks to approximate the Congressional Budget Office’s methods. As reported in Vox, Graham-Cassidy will cause
15 million fewer people to have insurance in 2018 and 2019, versus current law
21 million fewer be insured by 2026
32 million fewer Americans with coverage after 2026 if the funding provided in the Obamacare repeal bill [Graham-Cassidy] is not reauthorized by Congress
As I mentioned on Saturday's Interesting Stuff post, late night host Jimmy Kimmel waged a week-long war of words against Senator Bill Cassidy who, four months ago on Kimmel's show, said that he would not vote for a bill that did not include coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Then he went right back to Washington and co-authored this bill that does the opposite. Can you spell hypocrite?
Last Thursday a new survey from Public Policy Polling showed that only 24 percent of Americans approve of Graham-Cassidy. There is more detail about the poll at Vox.
Most of the news media and pundits are saying that the bill is hanging by a thread and has almost no chance of passing.
Three Republican senators have indicated they probably will not vote for the bill: Rand Paul, of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. On Friday, in a move that Vox called a “death blow,” to the bill, Senator John McCain of Arizona announced that he opposes Graham-Cassidy.
[UPDATE 5:45 AM PDT: Overnight, Republican senators altered Graham-Cassidy to throw more money via block grants to Alaska and Maine as a bribe to Senators Murkowski and Collins to vote for the bill. It will be interesting to see what they do.]
But are you going to count on that to quash the bill? Fifty-one votes are needed and we know at least one senator who went back on his public word.
Among the things I am grateful for even with my frightening diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is that I am old enough for Medicare. Without it, I would not have had anywhere near enough money to pay for my treatment and I would have had to just go home and die.
As will happen to too many people if Graham-Cassidy becomes law. Private insurance is not as comprehensive as Medicare but the Obamacare changes have gone a long way to help more people afford coverage. Graham-Cassity guts that.
They say that the Senate will vote on this bill on Wednesday. Unless Republicans withdraw it, they must vote by next weekend when Senate rules change and more than 51 votes are needed to pass a bill.
So please call your senators now to let them know where you stand. Even if you believe your senators will vote against it, call anyway. The number of calls matters.
Let's keep it simple – you don't need direct numbers to senators' offices. This number - 202.224.3121 - will get you to the Congressional switchboard. Just ask for your senator's office. Then, when you've left your message there, call back and ask for your other senator.
Do it now.