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Press release
September 25, 2017

Graham-Cassidy’s Seven Deadly Flaws That Harm our Families Health Care

Each New Version of the Legislation Makes the Plan Worse

Washington, D.C. – The new Congressional Budget Office report released late Monday confirms that Graham-Cassidy will take health care from millions of people and take a trillion dollars out of Medicaid. A Families USA annotated analysis of the most recent version of Graham-Cassidy details seven fatal flaws that put the CBOs findings in more detail.

“Americas’ families across the political spectrum have been very clear,” said Frederick Isasi, Families USA’s executive director. “What they want is comprehensive health insurance that provides financial security and reduces their out-of-pocket health care costs. This legislation fails on every count – it raises premiums, dramatically increases the number of uninsured, removes protections for pre-existing conditions, and represents an unprecedented power-grab by the White House”

The bill’s seven fatal flaws

The bill guts protections for people with preexisting conditions and older adults: The previous version let states eliminate essential health benefits like maternity care, mental health care, and prescription drugs and authorize insurance companies to raise premiums by unlimited amounts based on age or health problems. The newest version makes things even worse by letting insurance companies offer different plans to “high” and “low” risk people, without spreading the cost among all insured. These separate risk pools would cause premiums for comprehensive insurance to skyrocket, particularly for individuals with pre-existing conditions, creating a “death spiral” that would soon make comprehensive coverage completely unavailable.

The bill takes health insurance away from millions of low- and middle-income people: As of January 1, 2020, the bill would repeal Medicaid expansion and financial assistance for marketplace coverage. That coverage would be replaced by a block grant that shrinks health care funding by hundreds of billions of dollars. States will need to eliminate coverage for millions of residents, choosing between making insurance affordable for healthy people or maintaining protections for older and less healthy people – there won’t be enough money for both. Such funding cuts also would jeopardize the ability of states to fund other priorities like children’s education and community services.

The block grant ends after 2026, putting nearly 30 million people’s coverage at risk: The legislation takes the draconian step of completely ending all funding for the Medicaid expansion and private health insurance subsidies in 10 years. Finding hundreds of billions of dollars to fund these programs will be incredibly difficult and if Congress cannot come up with a new source of funding, tens of millions of families across the nation would lose coverage.

The bill destroys health security for people with employer-sponsored coverage: This bill would return more than 150 million Americans to the days when a pink slip meant they could lose health insurance along with their job, since the bill would slash private marketplace coverage and Medicaid, leaving families who have lost their jobs without a source of affordable, comprehensive health insurance.

The bill immediately increases premiums by destabilizing individual insurance markets: The proposal ends the ACA’s individual mandate, without adding any replacement incentives for healthy people to buy insurance before they get sick. CBO already found that this policy would immediately increase premiums by 20 percent and increase the number of uninsured by 16 million.

The bill slashes and radically changes the basic Medicaid program, which has nothing to do with the ACA. Federal funding would be cut, with rigid caps in place, for an estimated 68 million seniors, people with disabilities, children, and low-income parents who qualify for Medicaid under rules in effect long before the ACA. Their care will be rationed and their coverage limited, jeopardizing the long-term care needs of the large baby-boom generation as it grows older.

The bill represents an unprecedented White House power grab, and takes power away from states. The bill’s formula for distributing funds gives federal authorities enormous power to change state health care funding levels beginning in 2019. With billions of dollars and tens of millions of people at stake, whatever administration is in power would have the leverage to bend states to its will on almost any issue.

“President Trump and his Congressional allies are trying to rush this radical, dangerous bill through on a party-line vote before the American people understand what is being proposed,” the analysis by Stan Dorn, senior fellow at Families USA, concludes. “But we know that the bill will return us to the days when people with pre-existing conditions could be denied essential benefits or charged so much that insurance would be out of reach.”