Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
Here is an important heads-up for some of you. Donald Trump is getting his revenge on Republican Senators who couldn’t repeal without a viable replace healthcare strategy by allowing thousands of the people who voted for him to die. Enrollment for the 2018 Affordable Care Act starts and ends December 15. Trump reduced the ADVERTISING funds by up to 90% in some states to announce when people can enroll. He also cut the enrollment time period in half. It used to extend to January 31st. He has also drastically cut the budget for navigators, those folks you can call to get help if you can’t navigate the healthcare websites yourself. So if you need to sign up for healthcare in 2018, mark your calendar for November 1 and ride it hard, because you may find yourself all alone with a dysfunctional website trying to figure out your health insurance. Be careful, you may be a victim of Trump’s vendetta against his own party.
Or the whole thing might still be repealed. A new plan is being offered by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and this time John McCain may support it. The Senate rejected four different Obamacare repeal plans in late July. Republicans say the Cassidy-Graham proposal is a way to return power to states, but it will eliminate subsidies for private insurance and end the Medicaid expansion. The health insurance marketplaces would vanish.
The federal government would convert some of that spending into a lump-sum payment to states. States could spend this money on providing insurance, or use it for high-risk pools. The plan hasn’t been scored by the Congressional Budget Office yet, so it will not move quickly, but analysts who have studied Cassidy-Graham say it will slash federal funding and result in millions losing coverage.
Cassidy-Graham eliminates tax credits for middle-income Americans, the cost-sharing reduction subsides for low-income Americans, and the Medicaid expansion in 2020. There is no requirement to focus funds on low-income populations. The formula used to divvy up the big pot of money would tilt more funding toward sparsely populated, Republican states. Cassidy-Graham would also take the current Medicaid expansion spending from the 30 mostly-Democratic states that participate in the program like Colorado and divide it up among all 50 states. For a Republican state like Texas, which has not expanded Medicaid, this will be a windfall. But Democratic states like California and Colorado will be drastically disadvantaged, as its Medicaid expansion funds will go elsewhere.
If you’re concerned about the Cassidy-Graham repeal-replace proposal, you can share your thoughts with your Senators and Congressperson and see where they stand. And remember, if this bill does not pass and you need private healthcare in 2018, get on the Exchange November 1 or you may lose out in a big way.