Despite Added Goodies for Maine & Alaska, new Version of Graham-Cassidy May be Even Worse
Nothing like an idea whose time has come. But then there’s Graham-Cassidy, an answer to a question nobody asked. A bill that only Mitch McConnell could love:
New CBS poll:
Only 20% (!) of Americans, and only 46% (!!!) of Republicans, approve of Graham-Cassidy:https://t.co/T9hsbSLutN
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) September 25, 2017
It’s not over until it’s over. Obamacare repeal is now-almost-over. It will be over on September 30, which is Saturday this week.
Until then we can’t take a victory lap. Even though after McCain’s ‘no’ we’re very close. The last ditch Hail Mary is to entice both Susan Collins of Maine and Susan Murkowski of Alaska with goodies for their respective states.
It’s a clear appeal to rational ignorance as it makes Graham-Cassidy even worse but in the short term it throws Maine and Alaska a bone. A bone that comes at the expense of the rest of the country and even for these two states it’s little more than when a phone company offers you a plan with higher rates but gives you an immediate $75 dollar check.
Greg Sargent frames this well:
The “new” Cassidy-Graham may be crueler and more cynical than the last. Murkowski being lured into selling out her own stated principles: https://t.co/DdN2FXuPqO
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) September 25, 2017
“Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) are rolling out a new version of their repeal bill on Monday, and the changes to it are unabashedly clear in their intentions: They are designed to win over the few Republican senators who continue to say they may oppose the bill. But in so doing, Cassidy and Graham have revealed one of the core reasons the bill is in such deep trouble: Each time they lurch in one direction to appease one holdout, they risk driving another holdout away.”
“The new version is designed to win over a key moderate Republican senator who remains undecided, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, by nominally throwing more money at her home state of Alaska. Yet at the same time, it also appears to try to win conservative holdouts with new language that some experts say would further weaken protections for people with preexisting conditions.”
So basically the new bills raises your phone rates even higher but: they will give you an immediate $75 dollar check to cash.
Back to Sargent:
“Murkowski is on record with repeated statements opposing any such weakening of protections. And so, if these experts are right, and if Murkowski’s previous pronouncements mean anything at all, there is simply no principled way she can possibly allow this new money to buy off her vote.”
Will she pretend not to notice the weakend protections?
“The new version of the bill is similar to the old one in that it still ends the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion and subsidies and replaces them with block grants to states, which would result in substantially less money for many states over time. But as Dylan Scott explains in a useful rundown of the changes, the new one uses various new funding mechanisms that appear mainly designed to steer more money back to Alaska.”
But the new Lisa Murkowski friendly bill gives you a $75 dollar check with one hand and picks your pocket for $200 bucks with the other:
“Under the new one, states merely have to file notice of their plan. Here’s how Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation summarized those particular changes:
The revised Graham-Cassidy bill is in effect federal deregulation of the insurance market. States no longer have to submit waivers of insurance rules under the revised Graham-Cassidy bill. They just have to describe their plans. … If there was any question about Graham-Cassidy’s removal of federal protections for preexisting conditions, this new draft is quite clear.
“Nicholas Bagley, a health policy expert at the University of Michigan, tells me he thinks the new version of the bill is not quite that clear-cut: There is some language in it, he notes, that contradicts itself on this point. But he says a reasonable reading of the new text suggests it does weaken these protections. “Although the bill is convoluted and to some extent internally inconsistent, it suggests that states can allow their insurers to vary their premiums based on anything other than sex or genetic status, including on the basis of health status,” Bagley emails me.
This goes against what Murkowski has previously said was acceptable for her:
“Murkowski has repeatedly said she is trying to determine whether the added flexibility Cassidy-Graham gives to her state is worth the trade-off of losing funding, meaning that if her state doesn’t lose money, she might be able to support it. But that is not all Murkowski has said. On other occasions, she has explicitly and forcefully said that the ACA’s protections for people with preexisting conditions must remain in place — everywhere.”
“This is something Murkowski has plainly opposed. Is the new money for Alaska really mitigating? It shouldn’t be on the face of it. But as Jonathan Cohn notes, it’s not even clear, absent more rigorous analysis, whether the new money for Alaska will amount to what is advertised — a peril of this absurdly rushed process. What’s more, as other liberal wonks point out, the long-term cuts that would decimate Medicaid coverage everywhere remain even in the new version.”
“The bill’s proponents appear to be making a last-ditch cynical play that works like this: If Murkowski secretly wants to vote for repeal, the added money will allow her to do so while claiming she is prioritizing the interests of her state, and hopefully there will be enough confusion around the gutting of protections for preexisting conditions to allow her to finesse the politics on that front. But then Murkowski would be confirming that added money to her state — which, again, is uncertain in its real effects and won’t mitigate the bill’s deep long-term cuts — was sufficient to get her to toss aside her own stated principles. Indeed, if anything, these overall changes should make it harder for her to support the bill, not easier — if her previous public statements were rooted in anything approximating principle.”
I guess we’re about to find out. If I was her, I certainly wouldn’t be trusting Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell-or even Lindsay Graham and Bill Cassidy-to make good on their $75 dollar check.
P.S. Hello! I’m Mike Sax Democratic candidate for NY2. If you want to ride the Impeachment Train all the way to Washington DC in 2019 then please vote for me, Mike Sax NY2.
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