The latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, authored by two Republican Senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, has been heavily criticized over the last few weeks by politicians and health care experts alike. Groups like the AARP and the CBPP have also warned that it will result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance, partly because it proposes cutting federal Medicaid funding for senior citizens, people with disabilities, and families with children.
On Thursday, the Board of Directors of the National Association of Medicaid Directors also released a statement urging members of Congress to vote against Graham and Cassidy’s bill.
In their statement, the members of the board list the three main problems they have with the bill.
The first problem is the fact that, while Graham and Cassidy have proposed replacing Medicaid funding with block grants, they have not provided sufficient information about how these grants would work.
‘How these block grants will be utilized, what programs they may fund, and the overall impact they will have on state budgets, operations, and citizens are all uncertain…While the block grant portion is intended to create maximum flexibility, the legislation does not provide clear and powerful statutory reforms within the underlying Medicaid program commensurate with proposed funding reductions of the per capita cap.’
The second problem has to do with the timeline that is laid out in the bill for implementing the block grants. The bill would require states to put the block grants in place by January 1, 2020. The board argues that Graham and Cassidy don’t seem to understand all the work and resources that would be necessary for states to meet this requirement.
‘States will need to develop overall strategies, invest in infrastructure development, systems changes, provider and managed care plan contracting, and perform a host of other activities. The vast majority of states will not be able to do so within the two-year timeframe envisioned here, especially considering the apparent lack of federal funding in the bill to support these critical activities.’
Finally, the board says that Graham and Cassidy should not be rushing to get a vote on the bill by September 30 just so it can be passed with a simple majority instead of 60 votes.
‘Any effort of this magnitude needs thorough discussion, examination and analysis, and should not be rushed through without proper deliberation…With only a few legislative days left for the entire process to conclude, there clearly is not sufficient time for policymakers, Governors, Medicaid Directors, or other critical stakeholders to engage in the thoughtful deliberation necessary to ensure successful long-term reforms.’
There’s no guarantee that Graham and Cassidy will even get 51 votes by the end of the month. There are several Republican senators who are currently against the bill or leaning towards voting against it, including Arizona’s John McCain, Kentucky’s Rand Paul (who has argued that the bill is not conservative enough), and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. Hopefully, more members of the Senate will heed the NAMD’s warning and also refuse to support the bill.
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images.