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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Graham-Cassidy ‘Trojan Horse’ Insults Intelligence of Working Americans

The GOP’s Obamacare-repeal obsessives are back. This time they are trying to hustle working families with a classic, though transparent ‘Trojan horse’ scam. From Andrew Prokop’s Vox post, “The bait and switch at the heart of the new Obamacare repeal bill: Graham-Cassidy is being sold as giving states flexibility. But it hugely cuts health care spending.”

Cassidy and Graham like to emphasize that their bill would roll back Obamacare’s spending and regulations and would instead simply send states money in a block grant. States, they say, would be free to figure out how to use that block grant money however they see fit — they’d be able to experiment with their own approaches. Even moderate Republicans are likely tempted by an argument like that.

Here’s the catch: The bill doesn’t just move around Obamacare’s spending. It severely cuts federal spending on health care overall — both for Obamacare and for traditional Medicaid. And since covering people costs money, the result will inevitably be that millions of people will lose coverage…The Graham-Cassidy bill is essentially a Trojan horse for these dramatic cuts on health spending that Republican leaders have been pushing all along.

Prokop continues, noting the three features of the bill that give the game away: 1) The bill dramatically cuts and restructures traditional Medicaid; 2) In turning Obamacare’s spending into a block grant, Cassidy and Graham aren’t just redistributing it — they’re reducing it; and 3) The new block grant ends entirely after 2026, and there is nothing to replace it afterward.

Summarizing the bill, Prokop explains, “So the argument about giving states “flexibility” leaves out a whole lot. Less money would be available to states overall in those newly flexible block grants, and on top of that, traditional Medicaid would be cut — which clearly points toward millions losing coverage overall. And that’s even before the whole system is set to fall off a cliff in 2027.”

There are some formidable obstacles facing Republicans, including the opposition of some skeptical state governors in their party. Then there is the narrowing time window for getting the Graham-Cassidy trojan horse passed. The Republicans only need a senator of two to pass the bill, and once again the outcome may come down to Sen. John McCain, who sounds a little wobbly. The hope is that he won’t cave to party pressures and the pleadings of his closest friend in the Senate, primary sponsor Lindsey Graham.

What is certain is that the coalition that did such a good job of mobilizing against the previous GOP Obamacare repeal bills must turn the heat on again — or risk a health security disaster for millions of Americans.

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