What is the Graham-Cassidy health care bill and what does it mean?

Next week, the Senate will likely vote on a new health care bill, one, like the others that failed earlier this year, aimed at repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, (R-South Carolina), and Dr. Bill Cassidy, (R-Louisiana), would keep a portion of the ACA intact but would restructure the way states get federal funds for health care.

Republicans need 50 votes for the bill to pass. Cassidy told USA Today he believes the legislation has “probably 48 or 49.”

Here’s a look at what’s in the plan.

What do I have to buy?

Under Graham-Cassidy, you do not have to buy health care insurance.

What does my employer have to do?

There will no longer be a penalty on large employers that fail to provide insurance to employees.

The president said he will not sign a bill that ignores those with pre-existing conditions. What does the plan have for those with pre-existing conditions?

States will be able to waive provisions that cap what insurance companies can charge people with pre-existing conditions. However, insurance companies may not deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

States can waive the requirements for certain coverage mandated under the ACA, such as maternity care, mental health services and hospitalization. 

Will I still get a subsidy if I purchase health care insurance on my own?

No. The bill ends in 2020 the subsidies meant to reduce premiums for people earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level.

What happens to Medicaid?

The Medicaid program was expanded in 31 states and the District of Columbia under the ACA. Graham-Cassidy would bar any other state from expanding Medicaid. It would also end the expansion in the 31 states and D.C. in 2020.

Beginning in 2020, Graham-Cassidy would set up states with a “per-capita cap,” meaning states get a fixed amount of money per Medicaid enrollee. States could choose to get federal Medicaid funding as a block grant.

Those grants could be used for non-disabled adults and children in their Medicaid program. If they choose that option, states would get a fixed amount of federal funding each year – no matter the number of participants in the program.

  • States could require adult Medicaid recipients to work. The disabled, elderly and pregnant women would be exempt.
  • Anyone can buy a catastrophic insurance plan. Under the ACA, it was only available for those under 30.
  • It would defund Planned Parenthood for a year, then provide money for community health centers.
  • Individuals can contribute more to health savings accounts – from $3,400 to $6,650 for individuals. For families, the amount would increase from $6.750 to $13,300. 
  • Young people can stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26, just as with the Affordable Care Act.

Sources: USA Today; The Associated Press; CNN; The Washington Post


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