14 September, 2017
The bill was written by Sens.
GOP senators Lindsey Graham, of SC, and Bill Cassidy, of Louisiana, introduced a bill Wednesday to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with block grants to states, who would determine how to help people pay for health care.
"It is because we need bipartisanship that I want this to fail", Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama administration, tweeted, referring to the Cassidy-Graham bill.
Effectively, what the senators described Wednesday is a bill that would put a great deal of "power" back in the hands of the states. The new effort faces steep odds in the Senate, in part because Republicans have just 18 days to pass it.
Sen. Ted Cruz said the bill has the support of around 46 members of the GOP conference.
Trump has repeatedly blasted Senate Republicans, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in particular, for failing to finally "repeal and replace" the 2010 law this year, despite myriad promises to do so.
But there's a big catch: Over time, the amount of money offered to states to carry out their health care programs would be significantly less than the government would spend under Obamacare.
The Senate's parliamentarian has suggested that the GOP only has until the end of September before their reconciliation vehicle - the budget bill that allows them to pass health care with a simple majority - expires.
The bill does have the support of President Donald Trump, who applauded the bill in a statement after its release.
The senators said they likely don't have the votes yet, but Graham hinted multiple times that if the president can help get governors behind the proposal, senators would follow suit.
"As I have continued to say, inaction is not an option, and I sincerely hope that Senators Graham and Cassidy have found a way to address the Obamacare crisis", Trump said.
Another sticking point is whether key provisions of the proposal would qualify for budget reconciliation under what is known as the Byrd rule. The bill has yet to have a public hearing in any congressional committee, which was a chief criticism of the Republicans recent efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, and it hasn't been scored by the non-partisan budget agency, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Just under $1.2 trillion would be allocated for this objective from 2020 through 2026.
For more on this, read Bill Frist (the former Republican Senate leader) and Slavitt in The Washington Post on the bipartisan steps Congress should take. It would repeal both the individual and employer mandates to purchase insurance, which consumers and businesses have lamented since 2014.