Master Mind: Graham Cassidy is a Giant Step Backwards

Shutterstock | John Wollwerth

By Richard Master

Some members of Congress are obsessed with repealing the Affordable Care Act, and are willing to sign almost any bill that will do that. They could care less what’s actually in it. Just ask Senator Chuck Grassley:

You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered, but Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think the substance of the bill matters more than vague campaign rhetoric. The latest attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act, the Graham-Cassidy bill, would be devastating to American patients and our economy.

Let’s look at some of the scariest facts facts:

  1. 32 million people will lose coverage in the next 10 years.
  2. There will be an estimated 20% spikes in premiums next year.
  3. Medicaid funding will be significantly cut and replaced by “block grants”, which will run out in 2026, meaning that states will be left to either foot the entire bill, or kick more people off insurance.
  4. There will be no federal protections for pre-existing conditions, leaving people with chronic illnesses vulnerable to losing insurance or being completely priced out of the market. Preexisting conditions can also include things like pregnancy, eating disorders, anxiety, or depression.
  5. Medicaid cuts would affect women especially, since they make up 2/3 of patients and Medicaid covers 50% of all births. It would also force new women to return to work within 60 days or lose their Medicaid coverage.

The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, but it has provided significant funding to states who have opted to expand Medicaid and helped more people become insured. When more people can afford insurance, it’s good for the health of our people and our economy. It increases the likelihood that they will see a doctor, which can help screen for and treat serious health issues. It means people are less likely to forgo necessary treatments or skip doses of medicine due to cost. It means we have a healthier workforce to staff and run our businesses. It means that people are facing less financial tragedy, since the Affordable Care Act has reduced personal bankruptcy by 50%. It means that consumers have more money in their pocket to buy goods and services, helping our economy grow and thrive. Instead of offering real solutions to fix the ACA, the Graham-Cassidy bill just slashes funding and leaves tens of millions of Americans uninsured.

The last time a similar Senate bill reared its ugly head, an incredible amount of people made their voices heard. Supporters of Graham-Cassidy hope that this time, people will be more distracted. They hope that they can pressure Senators to vote with their party, or the wealthy donors who have pledged to withhold campaign funds if there’s no ACA Repeal. Our Senators don’t work for Mitch McConnell and they don’t work for their donors. They work for their constituents. I encourage everyone who has a personal story about why they need insurance, or who simply cares about how this bill would hurt their fellow citizens, to make their voices heard. No one who claims to represent their constituents can vote for this bill.

Richard Master is chief executive officer of MCS Industries, the producer of multiple documentaries about health care in the United States. He is the founder of the Business Initiative for Health Policy.