While Trump was baiting NFL players, GOP senators were resuscitating their last-ditch effort to take away health coverage from millions of Americans.
By DAVID GROVES
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 25, 2017) — If you’re wondering why President Trump decided to take on peaceful protests by NFL players over the weekend, when he couldn’t find the time or inclination to condemn the violent and deadly protests of white supremacists, look at what was happening in Washington, D.C.
Republican sponsors of the latest, and perhaps final, effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act — legislation that was declared all but dead on Friday after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced his opposition — were revising their bill to literally buy the votes of McCain and other wavering senators. The new version boosts funding in Arizona and Maine, and Alaska would also see an increase in Medicaid funding relative to pre-ACA days.
Those happen to be the home states of the three Republican senators who voted against the last failed ACA repeal bill, (left to right) Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), McCain, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). If they can buy the “yes” votes of these senators, they will succeed in passing their bill before the Sept. 30 deadline to do so with just 50 senate votes.
Meanwhile, since conservative extremist Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also opposes the bill as “another big government booddoggle,” sponsors Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have also revised the bill to include an even more aggressive assault on ACA protections for people with pre-existing conditions. As HuffPost reports this morning:
Under the newly revised bill, states would have an even easier time junking rules that prohibit insurers from charging higher premiums to people with cancer, diabetes, or other medical conditions. They could also waive existing rules limiting out-of-pocket expenses, or setting minimum levels of coverage.
To do this, state officials wouldn’t even have to apply for a formal waiver. All they would have to do is file a plan explaining their proposal, and why officials believe it would provide “adequate and affordable” coverage for people with prior medical problems.
That’s not much protection, experts warned.
“States don’t have to submit waivers, they just have to describe the rules they set, if any,” Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, told HuffPost. “It goes well beyond the previous bill by making clear that the federal out-of-pocket maximum and actuarial value requirements can be changed. That opens the door to very bare-bones insurance.”
The Graham-Cassidy bill would cause at many millions of Americans — including hundreds of thousands of families here in Washington state — to lose their health care insurance coverage. More precise estimates are not yet available from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office because GOP leaders aren’t waiting for that analysis before their planned vote this week. In addition, the bill removes popular consumer protections (like those for pre-existing conditions) and would cut — and for the first time cap — Medicaid funding well beyond how much it was expanded by the ACA.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that the Graham-Cassidy bill would cut Medicaid funding for seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and pregnant women by an estimated $175 billion over 10 years — beyond the hundreds of billions in cut from ACA Medicaid expansion — and by more than $1 trillion over the next 20 years.
So over the weekend, while America was talking about whether football players should be allowed to take a knee during the national anthem, Trump and Republicans were desperately resuscitating a bill to eliminate health care insurance for millions of families, especially those with pre-existing conditions, and to end Medicaid as we know it.
So if you are angry at either Trump or NFL players today, call your senators at 888-865-8089 and tell them what you think. But while you’ve got their assistants on the phone, make sure you tell them not to take health care away from millions of Americans.