The Graham Cassidy Health Care Bill Won’t Work For Indy Workers — And It’s Up for Vote Next Week…

While it hasn’t yet received as much media attention as the last Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, if passed, will be just as devastating not only to indy workers, but to all working people and their families.

Named after Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) who have taken lead on this version of ACA repeal, the Graham-Cassidy bill represents the GOP’s last ditch-effort to kill the ACA before September 30, after which the number of votes needed to pass the bill rise above the number of Republicans currently in the Senate.

As is well established, passage of the ACA was particularly important for indy workers. Diane Mulcahy notes in the Harvard Business Review that before the ACA, most indy workers were left with limited options when it came to health care: “either buying a costly private health plan that didn’t cover preexisting conditions, included caps on maximum benefits payouts, and could even be rescinded after an enrollee becomes sick, or searching for increasingly scarce jobs from companies that are more and more reluctant to hire full-time employees.”

In proposing to repeal the ACA while not replacing it in any meaningful way, the Graham-Cassidy bill, like the attempts which preceded it, automatically harms indy workers who currently rely on state exchanges for their health care.

Beyond its affects on indy workers, the bill cuts tens of billions of dollars in federal health care spending and could result in millions losing their insurance. As Slate outlines, the bill:

  • “Would take the money that the government currently spends on the ACA’s premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion and dispense it back to states in the form of block grants that they could use to fund their own health care experiments;”
  • “Give states the right to waive most of [the ACA’s] key regulations, including those that prevent insurers from charging more to people based on their health, so long as they explain their plan to ‘maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing coverage.’ (It’s not clear if that plan has to be realistic);
  • “Shift dollars from predominantly Democratic states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare to predominantly Republican states that did not. It’ll be a smaller pie overall, and places like New York and California that are inclined to expand health coverage will be getting a smaller slice.”
  • “Lists six different ways states can use their block grant money—but the spending categories are purposely broad, and it’s entirely conceivable that an Alabama or Mississippi would use its money to supplant some of their existing state spending or patch budget holes.”
  • “Does not appropriate any money for its block grants after 2026.”
  • “Is paired with a cap-and-cut approach to traditional Medicaid that is just as draconian as what the most recent Senate bill proposed.”

Mitch McConnell has declared that the vote for Graham-Cassidy will take place next week.

It’s imperative that you call your Senators.

If they are Republicans, urge them to vote “No” on Graham-Cassidy (here’s a brief article on the four most important Senators who need to hear from you if you’re in their legislative district). If they are Democrats, ask them to more vocally oppose the bill and to educate their constituents on its potentially damaging effects.

You can find out who your Senators are and how to contact them here.

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