Meet Brian Schatz. A Hawaiian senator, Democrat, and vocal opponent of the Cassidy-Graham healthcare plan, the GOP’s latest attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – or “Obamacare” – and leave millions of Americans without health insurance. In a recent tweet, he revealed how much more Americans could be spending on health care if the Republican party gets its way.
“Under this bill, pregnancy will cost you an extra 17K. Metastatic cancer 172K. Autism 5K. Asthma 4K. This isn’t a healthcare bill,” he wrote on Twitter.
In its latest incarnation, the Republican’s healthcare proposal would give more power to the states. Medicaid-allocated funds would be collected in Washington and divvied out to the states in block payments, giving them greater control over how money is spent so they can respond in ways to best serve the local area. Those that want to keep Medicaid could, at least in theory. Those that would prefer a Bernie Sanders-style single-payer system could build one.
“Instead of a Washington-knows-best approach like Obamacare, our legislation empowers those closest to the health care needs of their communities to provide solutions,” Lindsey Graham, Senator for South Carolina, has said, reports Vox.
“Our bill takes money and power out of Washington and gives it back to patients and states.”
All sounds well and good. But Graham forgot to mention that the states would be held to a much looser standard under Cassidy-Graham than is currently the case under the ACA. They would also have less money to work with.
Or rather, some states would. Others, mostly Republican, would actually see funding increase, at least for a short time. This is because under Medicaid states can apply for additional funding – a kind of Medicaid plus. Thirty states have taken the government up on the offer, most of them Democrat. Under Cassidy-Graham, the plan is to take the Medicaid expansion funding and split it equally between all fifty states. Texas will win some but New York will lose out.
Not that everyone in a state like Texas would benefit. Local government wouldn’t be obligated to make sure its poorest and most vulnerable citizens are covered or that insurance companies are offering the best possible service for the lowest possible amount. Anyone with a pre-existing condition could see their premiums hike or could be refused insurance altogether. Critics argue millions could lose their insurance or be forced to pay out a lot more, as Schatz points out.
Senate will vote on the bill next week.