The Senate will not vote this week on a proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Dean Heller, (R-Nev., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the proposal’s sponsors and Senate Republican leaders said yesterday.
The Senate faced a Sept. 30 deadline to pass the bill with a simple majority under 2017 budget reconciliation rules. After that point, any ACA repeal legislation will require 60 votes in the Senate to move forward unless a new budget resolution, including repeal instructions, is passed for fiscal year 2018 or 2019.
During a telephone press briefing yesterday, AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack; Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States; and Atul Grover, M.D., executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, urged the Senate to reject the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal.
A preliminary analysis of the proposal released Sept. 25 by the Congressional Budget Office found that the number of people “with comprehensive health insurance that covers high-cost medical events would be reduced by millions compared with the baseline projections for each year during the decade” 2017-2026.
Following the announcement that the Senate would not consider the legislation, the AHA’s Pollack said “it is our hope that leaders from across the aisle will start to work together for the benefit of patients across America.”
In recent days, the AHA, hospital and health system leaders and other health care groups had stepped up their efforts to persuade senators to reject the legislation.
By 2026, the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act would increase the number of uninsured Americans by more than 20 million and reduce federal funding to states by $275 billion, the AHA told the Senate Finance Committee in a Jan. 25 statement submitted for a hearing on the proposal.
The estimates are based on an analysis conducted for the AHA by KNG Health Consulting, as the Congressional Budget Office has yet to fully analyze the proposal.
“Moreover, while some states may receive additional federal funds under the proposal, our analysis found that the rate of uninsured would increase in every state,” the AHA said. “We urge the Senate to go back to the drawing board and work in a bipartisan manner to address the challenges facing our nation’s health care system.”
And the AHA on Sept. 23 joined five other national organizations representing hospitals, physicians and health plans in urging the Senate to reject the proposal.
“While we sometimes disagree on important issues in health care, we are in total agreement that Americans deserve a stable health care market that provides access to high-quality care and affordable coverage for all,” the AHA, American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Federation of American Hospitals and BlueCross BlueShield Association said. “The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill does not move us closer to that goal. The Senate should reject it.”
State insurance commissioners also weighed in against the legislation. Eleven state insurance commissioners and 25 former commissioners Sept. 25 wrote congressional leaders to oppose the bill and “work toward a bipartisan bill that would improve market stability,”
“At a time when state insurance markets urgently need greater stability and predictability, this bill would go in the wrong direction,” the letter stated. “The Cassidy-Graham bill would increase the number of people without health coverage and severely disrupt states’ individual insurance markets, with sharp premium increases and insurer exits likely to occur in the short term and over time.”
The letter was signed by insurance commissioners from Pennsylvania, Hawaii, New Mexico, California, Rhode Island, Washington, Minnesota, the District of Columbia, Colorado, New York and Oregon; and by former commissioners from Oregon, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Maine, Illinois, West Virginia, California, D.C., New Jersey, Montana, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Kansas, Texas, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, Iowa and Montana.