Story by Ethan Lomio
Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, was enacted in 2010 under President Barack Obama; it was passed entirely by Democratic members of Congress, receiving absolutely no support from members of the Republican Party, save for slight amendments that they pushed in order to allow states not to fully embrace the Act’s expansions. The Affordable Care Act contained vast extensions of the reach of Medicare and Medicaid – government programs originally enacted under the administration of President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 to bring health insurance to the poor, elderly, and disabled – with the intention of covering a much wider range of Americans.
The bill has since faced intense scrutiny from Republican voters and leaders alike, who argue that it has been ineffective, inefficient, and sometimes, a total failure. Republicans have promoted the repeal and replacement of this Bill since its enactment, but with the recent election of President Donald Trump, this push has increased tenfold in intensity.
Pandemonium reigned in the US Senate this week as Republican leaders scrambled to push their last-ditch blitz play to repeal and replace Obamacare: the Graham-Cassidy Bill, the latest, final, attempt for a partisan health care bill, spearheaded by Senators Lindsey Graham (Louisiana) and Bill Cassidy (South Carolina).
The election of a Republican majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives presented a short window of opportunity for a partisan repeal-and-replace Bill to be pushed into law by Republican leaders. However, serious controversy and deep divisions within the party swiftly negated this opportunity in the Senate, and by the end of September, this window had been slammed shut.
Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (Louisiana) and Bill Cassidy (South Carolina) teamed up earlier last month, bringing in Senators Dean Heller (Nevada) and Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) to formulate what quickly became known as the Graham-Cassidy Bill. Their proposal involved State governments in the formulation of individual state health care plans for their citizens’ unique needs.
To achieve this, they planned to distribute block grants to the states according to their populations and demographics and forcing a national-scale move away from the Medicare and Medicaid expansions imposed under the Affordable Care Act.
However, the Graham-Cassidy Bill quickly began showing cracks under the pressure.
The senators were extremely rushed in their processes, having just over a week to pull the bill together well enough to make it through a vote in their razor-thin, deeply divided Senate majority. They floundered, bringing the bill through dozens of iterations, ill-informing and poorly communicating with each other as the media pressed them as to why the process was such a mess. Simultaneous scrutiny from Republican Senators Rand Paul (Kentucky), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and John McCain (Arizona) quickly deteriorated faith and organization within the bill’s creators, crushing them in the end just 4 days before the final deadline.
One major issue was that of pre-existing conditions, for which both Sen. McCain and Ms. Rodowsky share deep concerns. Ms. Rodowsky expressed moderate concern over the fairness of the issue.
“The Graham-Cassidy Bill was basically going to leave [pre-existing conditions] up to the states for whether it was going to be covered through waivers to insurance companies in certain states. So you could’ve had a situation where one state covers preexisting conditions, and another state does not. And I don’t see that as being equally fair and just. When it comes to an issue as important as health care, we should all have the ability to have the same options available to us.”
While the Graham-Cassidy Bill is decisively dead, health care reform remains on the platter. The Graham-Cassidy Bill sparked a resurgence in the health care question.
Mr. Gibson, our Director of Library Services, and American government teacher remains confident that Congress will come together to find a bipartisan solution.
“Do I think the next one will be bipartisan? Yes, I think it will have to, and I think it will be because the Republicans have put something out there… They put the idea of block grants out there. That is something Republicans support, but that is also something Democrats can support.”
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