On Tuesday, September 26, 2017, Senate Republican leaders announced they would not vote on the “Graham-Cassidy” proposal to overhaul the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senate leaders had planned to vote on the measure as an amendment to H.R. 1628 (The American Health Care Act) that passed the House on May 4. The vote was canceled after Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine had said they would not vote for the health repeal measure.
The Graham-Cassidy plan would have transitioned current funding for tax credits, cost-sharing reduction payments and Medicaid expansion into a block grant for states to finance health insurance. It would also overhaul Medicaid by capping federal funding for states.
The BlueCross BlueShield Association (BCBSA) which provides business strategy, technical support and consulting expertise to BlueCross BlueShield companies across the nation, joined all major national provider organizations in opposing Graham-Cassidy. BCBSA estimates that New York alone would receive $27-$36 billion less between 2020 and 2026 than under current law. Here is BCBSA’s full statement on Graham-Cassidy:
“Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are committed to ensuring that all Americans have access to health insurance coverage and the peace of mind that comes with it. The current market is not working, and we will continue to work with lawmakers on a bipartisan basis to improve the individual insurance marketplace with the goal of making coverage more affordable and accessible for all.
Although we support providing states with greater flexibility in shaping health care options for their residents, we share the significant concerns of many health care organizations about the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill. The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions. The legislation reduces funding for many states significantly and would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans. Legislation must also ensure adequate funding for Medicaid to protect the most vulnerable.
We will continue to work with lawmakers on solutions to improve Americans’ health care and assure that people can access the coverage and care they need.”
What’s Next For Health Care Reform?
Congress has spent nine months focused on a health care overhaul, and the opportunity to pass legislation under the reconciliation procedure ends on September 30th, the last day of the fiscal year. Republicans were using the budget reconciliation process to roll back parts of the ACA because it requires a simple majority of 51 votes. Pressure on the GOP to act on health care is not likely to fade anytime soon.
After the Graham-Cassidy failure, President Trump predicted a vote between January and March 2018 on a health care plan, and said until then; he said he would work with Democrats on the issue.
Some key Senators have expressed a desire to move beyond repeal to bipartisan talks to stabilize the markets. Shoring up the markets is the focus of efforts by Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, his Democratic counterpart on the committee. Senators Alexander and Murray have made some progress on a narrow package of changes designed to stabilize the individual health insurance markets.
During the week of October 2nd, the Senate Budget Committee will mark up its fiscal 2018 budget resolution, which could include parameters for both a tax overhaul and health care reform. Currently, it appears most Republican Senators would prefer to focus the resolution on tax reform and return to health care in the fiscal 2019 budget resolution.
News and Media
Dave Anderson, CEO of HealthNow New York, talks with Steve Inskeep about lawmakers' plans to hold bipartisan hearings on health insurance exchanges. NPR's Scott Horsley has details and analysis.
As part of a coordinated, systemwide Blues advocacy effort to ensure funding for Cost Sharing Reductions, President and CEO Dave Anderson spoke with NPR's All Things Considered.