Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal to get 2 minutes of debate

One of the many things the Republicans aren’t telling you about their latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which will cut life-saving health care for millions of Americans, is that the entire debate over the Graham-Cassidy amendment, as it’s called, will be a whopping two minutes.

Yes, you read that right, 2 minutes.

And sadly, yet again, the Republicans are reportedly within a vote or two of passing this latest Obamacare repeal travesty, this time with an even worse bill.

Why just two minutes?

In a nutshell, in order to avoid having to get 60 votes in the Senate, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is reopening up the budget reconciliation bill, to add the Obamacare repeal there. But the reconciliation bill has already used up all of its debate time, so there’s no time left to debate new amendments, which is what Graham-Cassidy is. Instead, under Senate rules, Graham-Cassidy — the repeal of your health insurance — can only be given two minutes of debate. That’s it. (And each additional amendment would also get two minutes. But if there were too many amendments, McConnell could just shut it down.)

So with two minutes of debate, the Republican is going to decide your life and 1/6 of the entire US economy. That’s shorter than it takes for Ted Cruz to cruise an adult Twitter account.

Just how bad Graham-Cassidy is

This latest bill is a combination of the old bill, that would literally kill people with pre-existing conditions and permit insurance companies to quintuple premiums for older Americans as compared to what they charge younger Americans, and a new block grant that would limit how much states get to pay for Medicaid, among other things, and that would phase out entirely in ten years.

The net effect would be to gut Medicaid, and permit insurance companies to stop covering life-saving, or simply expensive, treatments for people with pre-existing conditions. Or, they could simply charge people with pre-existing conditions an exorbitant amount for coverage, versus everybody else, which effectively makes it impossible for you to afford the treatment anyway.

And keep in mind what counts as a pre-existing condition, it’s not just cancer. Pre-existing conditions also include: allergies, eczema, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pregnancy, and even being a woman (before Obamacare, women would pay more for the same policies that men paid less for — because, woman).

What else will Graham-Cassidy do? Gut annual out-of-pocket caps that currently require your insurance company to pay 100% for treatment and drugs after you spend a certain amount of money in any one year. For example, I’ve already paid $2,000 out-of-pocket this year on doctor’s visit, labs, treatments etc. So for the rest of the year, I pay nothing for my doctor visits, treatments, Rxs, etc. Graham-Cassidy will permit states to water that down and exempt treatments, prescription drugs, whatever they want, so that you will have to keep paying and paying, and your insurance may not even cover you.

In the old days, for example, my insurance covered $1,500 a year in prescription drugs, and that’s it. And if you have asthma, among other things, you can easily hit that limit in three months. Not to mention, what happens when you have a life-saving drug that costs $1,000 or several thousand per month?

And people with cancer should forget about it. The Republican party is taking us back to the days where you can no longer afford to get treatment because of a combination of your premiums being so high (because you’re “sick”) and the coverage for your condition being so low.

Here’s how much premiums may go up

The Center for American Progress looked at how much premiums might go up for people with various pre-existing conditions. For example, if you have asthma, your premiums could go up over $4,000 per year. If you’re pregnant, they could go up $17,000 per year. And forget about major cancer — you could see a $142,000 annual increase in your insurance premiums. Here are some conditions and the annual premium increase under Graham-Cassidy:

How you can help

At this point, skip the petitions, and start calling members of Congress and/or showing up at protests outside their offices. While every member of Congress needs to hear the message “vote against any legislation that repeals the Affordable Care Act,” obviously the Republicans in particularly need to hear from you. And while ever Republican can use a phone call, there are a few in particular that we need to be focusing on.

a. You can contact your Senators by calling the main US Senate switchboard and asking the operator who they are: (202) 224-3121.

b. In particular, the following Republican Senators could use special attention,and may be winnable as they’re moderate and vulnerable as many of the other more conservative Senators. And the DC office phones are often too busy to get thru, in that case try the local office (and feel free to call both anyway).

Susan Collins (Maine):
DC: (202) 224-2523
Portland: (207) 780-3575
Lewiston: (207) 784-6969
Bangor: (207) 945-0417
Augusta: (207) 622-8414
Caribou: (207) 493-7873

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska):
DC: (202) 224-6665
Anchorage: (907) 271-3735
Fairbanks: (907) 456-0233
Juneau: (907) 586-7277
Mat-Su:  (907) 376-7665
Kenai: (907) 283-5808
Ketchikan: (907) 225-6880

John McCain (Arizona)
Phoenix:  (602) 952-2410
Tucson: (520) 670-6334
Washington, DC:

Dean Heller (Nevada): 
DC: (202) 224-6244
Las Vegas: 702-388-6605
Reno: 775-686-5770

Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia):
DC: (202) 224-6472
Charleston: 304-347-5372
Martinsburg: 304-262-9285
Morgantown: 304-292-2310
Beckley: 304-347-5372

 

Rob Portman (Ohio):
DC: (202) 224-3353
Columbus: 1-800-205-6446 (OHIO)
Cincinnati: 513-684-3265
Cleveland: 216-522-7095
Toledo: 419-259-3895

Cory Gardner (Colorado):
DC: (202) 224-5941
Pueblo: (719) 543-1324
Colorado Springs: (719) 632-6706
Denver: (303) 391-5777
Grand Junction: (970) 245-9553
Greeley: (970) 352-5546
Fort Collins: (970) 484-3502
Yuma: (970) 848-3095
Durango: (970) 259-1231

The only thing that can stop this bill is putting more pressure on these Republicans than they’re currently getting from their base. They need to fear us politically more than they fear the Deplorables. So call them and be firm. Especially if you’re from one of the states above.

Thanks so much. We’ve killed this before, and we can kill it again. We have to kill it again. And then, throw these bums out in November 2018. I for one have had enough. JOHN


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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