Sen. Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg

Latest Obamacare Repeal Plan Cuts $17 Billion From Florida's Medicaid Funding, Study Says

While tens of thousands of Floridians were without electricity or internet this week, Senate Republicans were busy devising new and ingenious ways to strip health care from millions of people. Now that most Floridians have cell-phone service again, they should spend the week calling Sen. Marco Rubio to demand he vote against the so-called Cassidy-Graham plan, the latest limping zombie in a series of GOP proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a big machine that smashes poor people into cattle feed.

According to a study released earlier this week, the latest bill is particularly cruel to Floridians: The nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates the bill would strip $17 billion from the state's Medicaid funding by 2027. That's good for third-worst in the nation, behind only California, set to lose $57 billion, and New York, which would take a $33 billion cut.

In short, the bill would replace the Medicaid expansion instituted under Obamacare with a temporary block-grant program, which allocates only static pools of money to states. Those grants would last from 2020 to 2026, when they would vanish — the Center estimates the Cassidy-Graham plan (named for sponsors Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham) would cut "$299 billion from federal Medicaid pools in 2027 alone." In human terms, that means less money to care for sick children and poor elderly folks, which translates to real, human deaths.

Cassidy and Graham somehow wrote a bill that analysts warn would actually be more harmful than repealing Obamacare without a replacement. The Congressional Budget Office has not yet computed how many people could lose coverage thanks to this monstrosity, but a full-on Obamacare repeal would rip insurance from 32 million people.

The Center warns the Cassidy-Graham proposal's impacts could be worse:

In fact, starting in 2027, Cassidy-Graham would likely be even more damaging than a straight repeal-without-replace bill because it would add large cuts to the rest of Medicaid — on top of eliminating the Medicaid expansion — by imposing a per capita cap on the entire program. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has previously estimated that the repeal-without-replace approach would ultimately leave 32 million more people uninsured. Cassidy-Graham would presumably result in even deeper coverage losses than that in the second decade as the cuts due to the Medicaid per capita cap continue to deepen.

That's on top of all the other awful crap the bill would foist onto the American public, including provisions that would let insurers charge patients extra money if they have preexisting conditions like cancer or diabetes.

The Center for American Progress, a center-left think tank that backs establishment Democrats, has estimated that, for the typical 40-year-old patient in a state that eliminates preexisting-condition protections, premiums would jump by $142,650 for people with metastatic cancer, $72,980 for other serious cancers, and $26,580 for rheumatoid arthritis.

The bill is already teetering on the edge of death: The 52-member Senate GOP needs 51 votes to pass the measure, and Sen. Rand Paul is already staunchly opposed. But as anyone who watched the last late-night repeal fiasco in July knows, the Republican Party is always a few handshakes away from passing a repeal measure and literally killing its own constituents.

Floridians ought to call Rubio's office pronto and demand he oppose the bill, because it's likely the Senate could call a vote on it in the next week or two. But those calls almost certainly won't sway Rubio's mind. He's been trying to undermine Obamacare for years and has been onboard with every ACA-repeal package that's been pitched thus far. (He's even fine with repealing the ACA without any replacement.) If the bill makes it out of the Senate, Republicans likely have enough votes in the House to pass the measure.

Rubio also might have an added incentive to vote for the plan. He has said multiple times that he hates Sen. Bernie Sanders' competing Medicaid-for-all plan, and the bill might give the GOP a backdoor way to hamstring the growing single-payer movement. Louisiana Sen. John Neely Kennedy said today he has submitted amendments to Cassidy-Graham that would make it illegal for states to set up their own single-payer insurance programs, since left-leaning Democrats have been rallying around the single-mayer movement as of late. Rubio must be salivating already.

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