On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate once again chose to reject a bill that would have caused tens of millions of people to lose health coverage and irreparably damaged the Medicaid program. Senate Leadership announced that the Graham-Cassidy bill will not come to the floor for a vote. Yet again, Americans across the nation lifted up their voices to protect health coverage and care for millions, including older adults and people with disabilities.
The Graham-Cassidy bill retained many of the components of recent failed attempts to undo the ACA, but would have increased problems for state budgets. Most states would have lost significant funding for both their Medicaid programs and individual Marketplace coverage. The bill would have also eliminated guaranteed protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions and threatened to steeply increase costs for adults ages 50-64. Access to home and community-based services and nursing home care made available through Medicaid was also at grave risk under the Graham-Cassidy plan.
Only time, transparency, and a return to regular order can provide the right environment for developing real health care reforms. We must enhance access and affordability, not lessen them, and we must work toward bipartisan solutions, not a rushed, partisan process fraught with closed door meetings, secret bills, and limited analyses. The Graham-Cassidy bill failed. But if nothing else, this year has taught us that we must remain vigilant to defend and expand affordable health coverage for all.
For more information on the Medicare program and proposals under consideration to change it, visit the Medicare Rights Center’s “Protect and Strengthen” webpage at www.medicarerights.org/protect.
This article made possible by generous support from the Retirement Research Foundation