Capitol Correspondence - 09.25.17

The Latest on Graham-Cassidy Bill – Still a Major Threat, Senate Opposition Growing. Keep Calling!

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Today, September 25 at 2pm ET the Senate is holding a hearing on the deeply concerning Graham Cassidy Heller Johnson bill, which turns the ACA into a block grant and would convert Medicaid into a per capita caps program with insufficient funding. The bill text was updated over the weekend to give more funds to the states of Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky and Maine, the states where key Republican Senators have voiced the most opposition to the bill – read the updated text here. Read ANCOR’s letter to the Senate Finance Committee opposing the bill here. CMS has released data on the bill’s effects on states, and so have reputed data experts at Avalere. Despite the opposition of most major national health organizations in the U.S, bipartisan opposition from 11 governors and deep concerns from the National Association of Medicaid Directors, the bill has gained a lot of traction in the Senate since its introduction.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) has signaled support for the Graham-Cassidy bill by bringing it up for a vote (likely beginning this Wednesday and ending by Friday morning), leading to Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) announcing that his attempt at a bipartisan bill with Democratic Senator Patty Murray (WA) in the Senate is dead. However, the bill’s odds for success have been endangered by Senator John McCain’s (AZ) opposition, which he announced last Friday. Because this bill will be voted on using the reconciliation process, which allows it to pass on a simple majority instead of the usual sixty votes, the GOP can only afford to lose two party votes on this bill (Vice President Pence would then serve as tie-breaker).

Senator Paul (KY) has stated he would vote “no” as well but this could change. Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) expressed serious concerns about the bill but are not yet publicly committed to a position. See the full breakdown of votes here. Senator Murkowski is coming under heavy negotiating pressure to support the bill, especially because she was one of the three defeating votes in the last attempt to reform the ACA and Medicaid.  Because of this pressure on her, the bill is still very much alive and a threat – it is important that your GOP Senators hear from you during these critical next two days.

3 Republican “No” votes can defeat the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill – PLEASE DO NOT LET UP THE PRESSURE. The Senators listed below are considered potential swing voters – if you are their constituents please call their offices to ask them to vote no on the bill (script below). If you do not live in these states, you can help out by asking your friends and family who do to call their Senators. Because of the short amount of time before this bill comes up for a vote, calls will be the most effective way to communicate with Congress.

Rob Portman, OH – (202) 224-3353

Shelley Moore Capito, WV – (202) 224-6472

Jerry Moran, KS – (202) 224-6521

Cory Gardner, CO – (202) 224-5941

Lisa Murkowski, AK – (202) 224-6665

Here is a script you can use on your calls:

“I am a constituent of your state and I am strongly opposed to the Graham/Cassidy bill. This bill is being paid for in part by cuts to Medicaid funding for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our programs are proven to be successful and spend Medicaid dollars efficiently, but there is no room for further cuts –  if you support this bill, our businesses will fail and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities will suffer. Please tell the Senator to oppose Graham/Cassidy.”