Today, over 100 health, consumer, and patient groups called on our California Congressmembers to denounce the new ACA repeal legislation by Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, which would not just cut California’s budget and health system by tens of billions of dollars and leave over 6.7 million more Californians uninsured, but would single California out for harsher and earlier cuts.
These 100 groups sent a letter to California’s Congressional delegation to urge public opposition to this proposal and slow momentum before the September 30th deadline. Other groups in the #Fight4OurHealth coalition are holding events in front of Congressional offices to urge Representatives to oppose this assault on California’s health system, from Huntington Beach to Santa Clarita to Modesto, and including in Vista, where community members are wearing zombie costumes to protest this horrible bill back from the dead.
The legislation would repeal funding for the Affordable Care Act and cut and cap Medicaid—intentionally and disproportionately cutting California’s health care by a massive $28 billion a year by 2026, and a staggering $58 billion in 2027 and beyond, according to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
In comparison, the American Health Care Act that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year would have cut California’s health system by over $20 billion, an already devastating impact. The Graham-Cassidy proposal has many of the same provisions as harmful previous repeal bills (such as repealing the Medicaid expansion), but also includes language that explicitly attacks larger states that embraced the ACA and expanded coverage, specifically California, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland, to lessen the impact of the cuts to other states from where the authors are seeking Senate votes. The bill would result in cuts to access, benefits, and the loss of protections for those with pre-existing conditions at a greater magnitude than in previous ACA repeal bills.
An author of Graham-Cassidy, former Senator Rick Santorum, said it plainly to Breitbart News on August 22nd: “What you can do is redistribute this money that has been heaped upon these four ultra-blue, very wealthy states.” He continues, “If California simply wants to expand Medicaid with this money, good luck. They’re going to have to cut their program dramatically because they don’t have the money with what they’re funding now.”
Even as the ACA is more popular than ever, Congress is continuing to try to take health care away from millions of Americans, with even more extreme proposals to cut and cap key programs like Medicaid. This new effort by Senators Graham and Cassidy is even worse than previous proposals for all states, with disproportionate and devastating cuts for California and our health system. This proposal is explicit and intentional in taking money from California to lessen the impact in other states to buy off votes from key Senators.
Our California Congressmembers, even the fourteen Representatives that voted for previous ACA repeal bills, need to denounce this Graham-Cassidy proposal, and make it clear that if it ever passed the Senate, it would be rejected in the House. This is yet another moment of truth when we need our Congressmembers defend their California constituents, or if they put their party before the public.
The primary difference between Graham-Cassidy and other ACA repeal proposals is that it would replace funding for premium tax credits, cost-sharing reduction payments, and Medicaid expansion with a block grant, but with much less money, before ending the funding altogether. It would effectively eliminate the Medicaid expansion, which is responsible for covering over 4 million Californians, in addition to money that helps people in Covered California and the other exchanges afford coverage. Finally, it cuts and caps the Medicaid program, impacting all 14 million Californians who depend on Medi-Cal coverage including half of all children, and two-thirds of our nursing home residents.
This partisan ACA repeal effort is time-limited. Earlier this month, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that any attempts to pass legislation through the 2017 budget reconciliation process—and therefore by only needing 51 votes—expires on September 30. A budget reconciliation process for 2018 is expected to focus on tax changes and tax reform, rather than ACA repeal and health care changes.
For more information: Health Access Fact Sheet on Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal