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New ACA Repeal in Works; Advocates Say CT Would Suffer

Nationwide, the bill would cut federal health care funding $124 billion by 2026. (CORIGLIANOADV/Pixabay)
Nationwide, the bill would cut federal health care funding $124 billion by 2026. (CORIGLIANOADV/Pixabay)
August 28, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. — Two Republican senators are working on a new bill to "repeal and replace" Obamacare, and analysts say it would hit Connecticut hard.

Sens Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are reportedly working with the White House on a bill that would deeply cut Medicaid, institute a per capita cap on Medicaid benefits, and replace health insurance marketplace subsidies and the Medicaid expansions with diminishing block grants that would end totally in 2026.

According to Jacob Leibenluft, senior advisor with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the plan would devastate health coverage in states such as Connecticut that have succeeded in enrolling many low- and moderate-income people in Medicaid and marketplace plans.

"The block grant and per capita cap combined would cut federal funding for health coverage in Connecticut by nearly $2.5 billion in 2026,” Leibenluft said.

Under the bill, some states, such as Alabama and Mississippi, initially would get more federal health care money, but that would disappear when the block grants ended.

Leibenluft pointed out that, on top of the overall cuts, the bill would redistribute the reduced federal funds across the states, based largely on criteria unrelated to actual spending needs or gains under the ACA.

"What you see under this plan,” he said, "is some states are really devastated in the near term, some states are just hurt some in the near term, but in the long run every state would lose out significantly."

Leibenluft said once the block grants end, the bill essentially would be a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, without a viable replacement.

But the Cassidy-Graham bill is not the only option to reform the health care system. Leibenluft noted that, after the July vote that stalled the efforts to repeal the ACA, several senators from both sides of the aisle committed to work together on a solution.

"This is an effort to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, improve the health care system and try to find ways to work in a bipartisan manner to lower costs and improve coverage,” he said.

The Senate will hold hearings on the bipartisan effort to fix the health care system early next month.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT