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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  • Badgerite

    Lindsey Graham saying that the Graham-Cassidy bill covers pre-existing conditions is like Bill Murray in Stripes at the Army recruiting office when asked if he had ever been convicted of a crime.
    “Convicted? No. No. Not convicted.”
    There are no subsidies in this bill to help middle and lower income people pay insurance premiums.
    They are on their own in that score. Graham-Cassidy maintains the bar to denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition. But it also allows state legislatures to allow insurance companies to increase the premiums for these conditions to the point of un-affordability for any but the seriously well off. So no, someone with modest resources and a child born with a heart condition similar to Jimmy Kimmel’s son would, in all likelihood, be out of luck.
    As one person notes, this bill would allow for insurance companies, depending on the state you live, to basically not cover sick people at all unless they were wealthy. The specific provision allows them to jack up premiums for those with pre-existing conditions and it also allows them to jack up premiums on covered individuals if they develop an illness. So that is pretty much anyone who is ill and needs healthcare.
    Anyone who gets sick and is not wealthy. Men, women or children.
    And overtime it guts the federal Medicaid funding to the states. Thereby making it less likely those states can help provide healthcare to their own lower and middle income citizens. Men, women and children. If these people are Christians, they must have missed a lot of Christ’s sermons.

  • Badgerite

    I do agree with the decades to come part. So does the GOP. Which is why they are trying to get something passed that looks as if it is simply tinkering with the system when in fact they are looking to end it entirely and return to health care rationed by wealth. It is the same principle. With what they gauge to be enough smoke and mirrors to obscure what they are doing from the voting public who they are doing it to.

  • Badgerite

    Well, that is exactly why the ACA was such a “big fffing deal” as Joe Biden said. And why there were compromises made to get it through. To get the insurance companies to sign off on it and not oppose it which most of them did. And this time, besides the GOP which wanted that money to go to their donors as tax cuts, the left piled on and vilified Obama and the law. It is a good law on its own terms. Public option or no public option. Because of the ACA I now have health insurance through my employer that is as good as Medicare as opposed to not that good and not even worth signing up for that they offered before the ACA and at extraordinarily affordable rates. The ACA, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has had a good effect on all aspects of the system. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but now that they have gutted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau legislation that was passed during the Obama administration, all the bad predatory practices of old are returning, exorbitant late fees and all. So I think the focus on single payer, Medicare for all, much as I support that eventually, is not as important as keeping the current legal structure in place. I agree that it could take decades to make the same progress again. I just think that eventually the illogic and harm of what the GOP is doing and the fact that it is being done by people who have the best health care available provided by taxpayer dollars will sink into the public knowledge base.

  • The problem is that the people who care about health care for everyone and not just for themselves are already on board for single payer or something like it. (Personally I’m not that committed to any one model.) The rest will only care when they are the ones being fucked over by the medical industrial complex. And as we’ve seen from far too many interviews, usually even that is not enough.

  • I’ve been saying that for over 20 years and it’s still not happening. The insurance companies are not going to let things get so bad for the middle class (overall, not individually) for that to happen. They’ll stay just about the threshold where most of those suburban swing voters are happy enough with how things are so that they can be scared of “socialized medicine”. And this will drag on and on. The idea that enough people will want something better and less expensive but run by the government in this country is a fantasy. At least for decades to come. The right spend decades fear-mongering Americans with dystopian visions of anything that sounds remotely like socialism. If the left wants to counter that they need to be prepared to spend decades countering that at the grassroots level. I do not see that level of commitment or organization from liberals, progressives or even moderates.

  • Demosthenes

    If the Trump GOP destroy health care, the next time the Democrats have control of the presidency and Congress they will pass single payer.

  • fry1laurie

    All their ridiculous arguments about the ACA (“no debate”, “have you even read the billl?”, “DEATH PANELS!!!”) are now being implemented. No shame at all.

  • Badgerite

    I think so as well. The degree to which they will damage people and the healthcare system with this and willfully so will make that inevitable at some point in the near future.

  • Demosthenes

    The suffering that would occur makes single payer inevitable (eventually).

  • Badgerite

    They are not having a debate. Apparently there will be a ‘hearing’ in from of the Ron Johnson’s committee and the only people testifying will be Graham and Cassidy. No CBO score. They are just trying to throw tens of millions off heath care and apparently the reason is, per usual, the money is ear marked for people like the trumps. Because racism, corruption and stupidity really must be rewarded. Oh, and they are afraid people, as in We the People might get it into their heads that they like having the security of healthcare that they can count on so that they and their loved ones get to, you know, live. Go figure. And because, obviously, 99% of the people that make up this country are nothing but “takers” and contribute nothing to this society at all.
    God they suck. This is like gays getting married to them. For some reason, a system that ensures a healthy and thriving population and one where medical bankruptcies are not the main cause of personal bankruptcy in our society is somehow anathema to them.

  • Demosthenes

    “How do these guys live with these votes and knowing what the result will be for the people back home?”

    They don’s care. Most of these GOP politicians are truthless sociopaths.

  • Demosthenes

    The GOP stopped pretending a long time ago that they are a normal political party. They’re a ruthless radical extremist faction with a single minded focus on imposing tier abhorrent agenda. They don’t care about unfavorable facts. Their propaganda mills (Fox “News”, Breitbart, talk radio, Sinclair media) will issue false talking points. A debate on such a bill is a complete waste of time.

  • Badgerite

    This is barbaric. The return of rationing life and death medical treatments on the basis of one’s wealth or lack of wealth. How do these guys live with these votes and knowing what the result will be for the people back home?

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