Sunday, July 30, 2017

It's Not Dead Yet

Oh, did you think the Senate GOP was just going to walk away from destroying Obama's legacy after trying more than 70 times over the last 7 years to do so? Of course they have another arcane, byzantine Trumpcare proposal and this time it's Lindsey Graham's straight-out assault on Medicaid, effectively ending the federal program and turning into block grants for states, along with massive cuts to those grants from existing funding levels.

In theory, the Senate could bring back up their party line budget “reconciliation” effort to gut Obamacare as soon as next week. Graham’s bill has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office and did not receive a test vote this week. It currently has a small group of supporters and will likely need major work to pass the Senate, like language defunding Planned Parenthood which would likely alienate a pair of moderate senators.

Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Dean Heller of Nevada joined Graham at the White House on Friday, and each has joined Graham’s bill as the new alternative plan for Republicans. The bill’s supporters are telling administration officials and congressional aides that the bill will score far better than previous efforts, which CBO analyses project would cause millions more uninsured people and short-term spikes in premiums.

“I had a great meeting with the President and know he remains fully committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare. President Trump was optimistic about the Graham-Cassidy-Heller proposal. I will continue to work with President Trump and his team to move the idea forward.,” Graham said late Friday.

The South Carolina senator has been talking to Meadows about the bill as a possible way forward that both chambers could accept. Several GOP governors have signaled interest to Graham for the bill as a way to keep funding levels steady and give states more control. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is also monitoring those conversations, a Republican aide said.

Meadows has shopped the Graham proposal around to other conservatives to get their take on the bill. He said Thursday that Graham’s bill would need to ease the ability of governors’ to get waivers to ignore some of Obamacare’s regulations.

“We’re going to regroup and stay focused,” Meadows said Friday. “I’m still optimistic that we will have another motion to proceed, and ultimately put something on the president’s desk.”

Sure, it's a great deal for red states that refused Medicaid expansion and already make it impossible to sign up for the program like Texas and Alabama.  For the rest of states, it'll represent hundreds of billions in cuts, oh and states wouldn't have to actually spend any money on Medicaid *at all* if it's like previous GOP proposals, they just have to have a program like Medicaid.  It's not their fault if 99.9% of people don't qualify for it, right?

Meanwhile states like California, New York, and Illinois would see massive, draconian budget cuts, while red states would almost certainly take the money and give tax cuts to the rich.  Lost in the mess would be millions losing their health coverage and while Obamacare rules would stay in place, there wouldn't be any Medicaid to back up coverage for those who couldn't afford individual plans.

Yes, this plan too would devastate the individual insurance market and kicks tens of millions off healthcare plans.  But as the Senate GOP keeps saying, as long as they can pass something, anything, they can get it to conference with the House GOP and force a final bill without the Democrats being able to stop them.

The GOP's biggest enemy now is the clock.  September 30th would mean a government shutdown and no budget, and then they couldn't use budget reconciliation rules and a 50 vote plus Mike Pence threshold to pass repeal unless Mitch eliminates the filibuster, something he knows damn well would give the chamber to the Dems by 2020.

We'll see.

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