2017-09-21 13:14:08 UTC

Cassidy-Graham Legislation Lacks Patient Protections

Sept. 21, 2017

Proposed bill to repeal parts of Affordable Care Act rolls back Medicaid expansion and could put patients with pre-existing conditions at risk.

Next week, the Senate is expected to vote on legislation to repeal certain parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill, sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-LA, and Lindsay Graham, R-SC, would dramatically change the way federal health care funding is distributed to the states and roll back Medicaid expansion. If passed, AGA is concerned that millions of patients could lose health care coverage and basic protections for pre-existing conditions and lifetime expenditure caps

Key points about the bill: 

  • The bill ends funding for Medicaid expansion through the ACA by 2020. 
  • States will receive Medicaid block grants based on the number of lower income residents. It is estimated that the states that expanded Medicaid coverage would be disproportionately negatively impacted. States that did not expand coverage would see increased funding.  
  • The bill maintains taxes contained in the ACA, but repeals the individual mandate, employer mandate and the medical device tax.

The political situation: 

  • Several governors oppose the legislation, which may or may not sway their senators.
  • Congress must vote on the legislation before Sept. 30, when the current fiscal year expires.  The Senate plans to use the reconciliation process, which allows passage with a simple majority rather than 60 votes.  
  • It is not clear whether Senate Republicans have the necessary votes to pass the bill.

AGA urges Congress to return to regular order and work in a bipartisan manner to stabilize the individual insurance market and make improvements to health care legislation to ensure that patients have access to and coverage of quality health care.    

We strongly urge Congress to include the following provisions in any health care replacement package: 

  • Ensure patient access to and coverage of specialty care.
  • Ensure patient access to and coverage of evidence-based preventive screenings without cost-sharing.
  • Insurers cannot discriminate because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Insurers cannot discriminate based on gender.
  • Parents should be allowed to keep their children on their plans until age 26.
  • A ban on annual and lifetime caps.

AGA calls on Congress to enact legislation that contains these essential patient protections and other improvements to ensure affordability, accessibility and quality health care for all Americans.

Contact your member of Congress to let them know that patients need access to quality health insurance and high-quality medical care. 

Time is of the essence, so please contact your senator by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask the operator to connect you with the senators from your state.

When you reach your senator’s office let them know the following:

  • Your name and where you are calling from in the state.
  • You would like to urge the senator to oppose any repeal and replace legislation that results in lost coverage, lack of access to specialty care or loss of coverage of preventive services.

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