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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Capitol building at night

Just when we started to hope that the debate over the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was at an end, a new plan to repeal and replace the law has been introduced. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have introduced a bill that would be devastating to individuals living with chronic illness including those who have been impacted by cancer. This bill would:

  • Allot $1.2 trillion to provide states with block grants
  • Repeal and replace ACA tax credits, Medicaid expansion, and cost-sharing payments
  • Dramatically cut federal funding for Medicaid expansion, and financial assistance programs for individuals within the marketplace, ending the funding entirely by 2026
  • Allow states to weaken their coverage requirements, meaning that insurers can return to offering plans that do not cover many essential health benefits like maternity care, treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders, and even coverage of prescription drugs
  • Repeal the individual and employer insurance mandates, as well as the medical device tax, all created under the Affordable Care Act
  • Dramatically cut and restructure the Medicaid program

Thus far, Senators have been taking advantage of a process called “reconciliation” to try to quickly repeal and replace the ACA. Reconciliation is used to fast track spending legislation because it requires fewer votes. The bill has to be passed by September 30th because the Senate Parliamentarian (whose job it is to interpret the Senate rules) stated that the process of reconciliation will expire at the end of the fiscal year. Senator Cassidy has stated that 49 Republican Senators are on board, out of the necessary 50, meaning that there is a serious risk that this bill could pass the Senate.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has announced that there is simply not enough time to complete a full analysis of the impact of the legislation, ultimately meaning that there will be no time to fully assess or correct the potential impact this bill will have on Americans and our health insurance market.

With the risk of ACA repeal upon us once again, and the instability of the insurance market up for debate on the hill, it is more important than ever before to stay up to date and engaged. If you are concerned about the future of your health insurance, make sure you are signed up for our Grassroots Advocacy Network to receive updates and opportunities to make sure your voice is heard at this critical point in the security of the nation’s health care.