June 19, 2024

Latest Obamacare Repeal Effort Fails

Ever since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, Republicans have made it a priority to repeal and replace the law. The GOP has tried to repeal or alter Obamacare over 70 times but they have found little success. Similarly, the latest attempts have initiated no change.

Republicans only needed 50 votes from the Senate to pass a repeal bill through a specific process: budget reconciliation. This process can only be used on bills that directly affect spending; therefore, Obamacare would not technically be repealed, but the taxes used to pay for it would be. However, budget reconciliation expired on September 30th. Republicans wanted to make one last attempt to repeal Obamacare before that deadline.

One of the major proposed alterations to Obamacare in this failed bill, called the Graham-Cassidy Plan, is funding for the Medicaid expansion that will be redirected to a block grant system giving states more flexibility, but would also cut funding, by 2020. Also, this bill would have repealed the individual mandate required by Obamacare, cut funding to Planned Parenthood, and allowed states to apply for waivers that would allow them to modify Obamacare’s essential health benefits. Overall, the bill would divert funding from states that expanded Medicaid, like California and New York, to states that did not, like Alabama and Georgia.

The bill died before the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had a chance to predict the impacts of the bill. Independent firms have calculated that an estimated 15-32 million people would have lost insurance, and that this bill would have reduced the deficit by $215 billion by 2026.

The bill was initially released on Sept. 13 by senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) and Bill Cassidy (R-L.A). It picked up momentum quickly with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-W.I) asserting that the GOP has the votes in the house to pass the Senate version of the bill. However, that quickly faded. Senate Democrats were unified in opposition to the new health care bill. By Sept. 26 Senators Susan Collins (R-M.E), John McCain (R-A.Z), and Rand Paul (R-K.Y) voiced their opposition to the bill. Following this, Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y) cancelled the vote. However, McConnell said at a Republican luncheon that “… we haven’t given up on changing the American health care system.”