Health Care Reform Is Not Dead

Earlier today, a group of Republicans including Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, Dean Heller, Ron Johnson and former Senator Rick Santorum unveiled a new Obamacare replacement plan. It isn’t just a concept, but has been reduced to actual legislation. Despite reservations that some may have about the proposal’s sponsors, early reviews by conservatives have been positive.

The Graham-Cassidy proposal partially repeals Obamacare and turns power over to the states. These are some highlights:

* The bill repeals Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates.
* It repeals the medical device tax.
* It enhances the states’ ability to waive Obamacare’s regulations.
* Dollars that currently are being spent by the federal government in the form of Medicaid expansion, tax credits, cost-sharing subsidies and basic health plan dollars would be given to the states in block grants to be devoted to health care, mostly at the states’ discretion.
* The states would receive federal money in proportion to their population of poor people.

Graham-Cassidy isn’t perfect by any means, but it would be a huge improvement over Obamacare. And there is an interesting political hook. Under Obamacare, 37% of federal money goes to only four states. Naturally, California and New York are two of them. Under the Graham-Cassidy formula, these blue states would get less money, and the other 46 states would get more.

Health care reform isn’t dead, but it might be on life support. The window for passing bills under the reconciliation procedure closes on September 30, so there isn’t much time. The Democrat-leaning Congressional Budget Office might be able to kill the bill, in effect, by delaying its scoring until after that date.

But pretty much all conservatives recognize that the Republican Congress needs to do something to roll back Obamacare, at least partially, if it is to retain any credibility. Based on early returns, it seems that Graham-Cassidy may be the most productive path forward.

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