Last week, a group of Senate Republicans unveiled their latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and strip millions of Americans of their health care coverage. Graham-Cassidy, named after its primary sponsors in the Senate, is even worse than its predecessor repeal plans and would devastate young adults’ health care. Young Invincibles urges members to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy amendment.
How Graham-Cassidy Hurts Young Adults:
- Graham-Cassidy slashes federal health care funding. New Census numbers reveal that more than 9.3 million young adults have gained coverage since passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — thanks in large part to new federal funding for health care dedicated to premium tax credits for low- and middle-income consumers and Medicaid expansion. And millions more could be eligible for coverage if all states expanded their Medicaid programs. Graham-Cassidy would cut federal health care funding by 34 percent between 2020 and 2026; in 2027, all federal funding for Medicaid expansion and financial assistance through the marketplaces would be eliminated entirely. Another analysis of the amendment by Avalere Health finds that federal health care spending would fall by $4 trillion over the next two decades.
- It would end Medicaid as we know it. The Medicaid program is a critical lifeline for young families, as it covers care for half of all births and more than a third of all children. Graham-Cassidy would end the Medicaid program as we know it by converting the program’s guaranteed funding to a limited,per capita cap funding model. This would force states to cut millions from their Medicaid coverage, cut access to essential services, raise taxes, and/or lower provider reimbursement rates. Furthermore, this fundamental change would hamstring states in being able to respond to public health emergencies like a Zika outbreak or natural disasters similar to those that have recently ravaged states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia.
- It guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Prior to the ACA, more than a third of young adults had conditions that exposed them to being denied coverage by insurers. The ACA not only banned insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, but it also prevented them from charging people with pre-existing conditions more for coverage. Graham-Cassidy would allow states to waive these protections and subject people with pre-existing conditions to higher costs for their coverage. For example, if you have asthma, you could face a premium surcharge of $4,340. Consumers who are pregnant or have metastatic cancer could face even higher surcharges of $17,320 and $142,650 respectively.
- It would end the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits. Graham-Cassidy would also allow states to waive the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) that ensure policies cover basic health care services like maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, and preventive services. These services are both highly valued and utilized by young people. Waiving these benefits opens the back door to allowing states to discriminate against people who need health care services by forcing them to pay more out of pocket for the health care services they need. Eliminating EHBs could also allow insurers to impose more annual and lifetime limits on coverage and shifting costs to consumers.
- The amendment defunds Planned Parenthood. Millions of young people rely on Planned Parenthood to access basic health care services like preventive care, including immunizations, cancer screenings, and contraception. Graham-Cassidy would single out Planned Parenthood by prohibiting it from receiving Medicaid reimbursement dollars for administering care. Defunding Planned Parenthood could lead to more unintended pregnancies, higher maternal mortality rates, and missed diagnoses that could help catch and treat diseases before they become more serious.
Why the Senate Must Abandon Graham-Cassidy NOW:
- No CBO score, no vote. The Senate will not have a CBO score outlining the amendment’s full impact before members are being asked to vote. It is reckless for the Senate to vote on legislation that will reorder the health care system without a comprehensive analysis of how the bill will impact Americans’ access to health coverage, consumers’ premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
- Funding for essential health programs could lapse. Congress has until September 30, 2017 to reauthorize funding for several crucial health programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Community Health Centers, and Medicare programs that support rural hospitals and patients. However, if Congress prioritizes passing its partisan Graham-Cassidy amendment over these essential programs, funding for these programs will lapse. As a former Senate staffer and professor at Georgetown Center for Children and Families put it: “There are only [now 10] days left in September, and there are even fewer legislative days. The Senate will have a short week this week and next to observe Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, limiting the total number of legislative days between now and the end of September to six at the most… it is highly unlikely if not impossible to move forward on two completely different paths [repeal and reauthorizing CHIP] and come to any productive resolution in the span of six legislative days.”
- Give bipartisan efforts in the Senate a chance. Earlier this month, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee held bipartisan hearings on ways to reduce insurance premiums and stabilize the health insurance markets. At these hearings, liberal and conservative experts alike called on Congress to make Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments to insurers that help reduce out-of-pocket costs for low- and middle-income consumers and prevent a 20 percent spike in premiums next year. This week, Democratic and Republican Governors wrote a joint letter pleading with the US Senate not to consider Graham-Cassidy and give a chance to the bipartisan efforts in the Senate to stabilize the individual insurance market. They wrote: “legislation should receive consideration under regular order, including hearings in health committees and input from the appropriate health-related parties.”