Even with the GOP’s fifth try at healthcare reform, the Cassidy-Graham healthcare bill faces the same problem that many of the past healthcare bills had; discriminating those with pre-existing conditions.
For the Republican Senate, their summer had been defined by their inability to pass legislation that would repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA); also known as Obamacare. The failed four attempts to dismantle the ACA has been a major red mark to not only the Congressional GOP, but to President Donald Trump as well. So it shouldn’t be that surprising that Republican Senators are trying to create healthcare legislation once again.
This latest GOP healthcare bill is realistically the senate’s last chance to pass healthcare reform and kill the ACA in the process. It’s unofficially being called the Cassidy-Graham bill, due to both Republican Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina spearheading the plan. While Senate GOP are selling the idea as a basic compromise on healthcare, in reality however, it’s very similar to past Republican healthcare reform plans in which it tries to give states more power in how to allocate federal funds.
One of the major cornerstones for the Cassidy-Graham healthcare bill has been the additional flexibility that it gives states to run their respective healthcare systems. It essentially centers around lowering the financial burden of healthcare on the federal government, by having states decide on particular subsidies and statutes that they want their healthcare plans to follow. While the ideals of the Cassidy-Graham legislation lineup relatively well with the basic tenants of the Republican agenda, it faces the same problem all the other GOP healthcare reform bills had; it gives potentially less coverage to individuals. Particularly in this case, by bringing back pre-existing conditions.
— Sen. Maria Cantwell (@SenatorCantwell) September 20, 2017
While the idea of giving states more power in deciding healthcare plans sounds reasonable in theory – the reasoning being that states would know better what type of healthcare options fit their state – in practice however, it brings back an unpopular provision that the ACA (aka Obamacare) had done away with: pre-existing conditions.
Under the ACA, denial of insurance due to pre-existing conditions had been completely done away with, but under the Cassidy-Graham healthcare bill, that provision would be brought back again because of the bill’s legislation revolving around healthcare waiver systems. Under the Republican bill, health plans that want to charge patients with different pre-existing ailments – which would range everything from mild asthma to a cancer diagnosis – would be able to, in hopes of offsetting health insurance costs. The reason this is possible, is because Cassidy-Graham allows state plans to opt-out of multiple key ACA provisions.
Even though Sen. Cassidy insists that people with pre-existing conditions would be protected under their healthcare plans, however many healthcare organizations remain skeptical. Much of that skepticism has to do with language of the bill not including provisions of defining what “affordable healthcare” means and specifically, not having restrictions against raising prices on those with pre-existing conditions. By the definition of the law, Sen. Cassidy could be correct in that everyone would have the chance of getting health insurance under their plan, but if the premiums are so expensive of those with pre-existing conditions couldn’t afford it, many would argue that would not fall under the definition of affordable healthcare.
As we talked about this before, the ACA was specifically designed to expand healthcare coverage to millions of individuals, the GOP healthcare plans are centered around cutting costs. Because of that, any GOP healthcare reform bill will end up with a multitude of Americans losing health insurance, Cassidy-Graham to be no exception in that front.
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