Block Granting Away Our Access to Health Care

DC is abuzz over Sen. John McCain’s friendship-over-principle backing for the Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal bill. The Hill reports his best buddy Graham is the author, so it’s a done deal. However, it’s unclear whether it has the votes.

The measure faces long odds even with McCain’s comments. The White House is pushing for it, but Senate GOP leadership has so far not expressed interest publicly. 

Republicans face a tight deadline of Sept. 30, when the fast-track process known as reconciliation needed to pass a repeal bill without Democratic votes expires. 

For those not familiar with block grants, instead of the federal government giving state governments a certain amount based on the number of state residents impacted by a particular issue–in this case, number of state residents receiving subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA–the government instead gives a fixed dollar amount regardless of the state residents involved.

Block grants are typically used to cut funding for something by Republicans, who want to say they are being fiscally responsible without admitting they are cutting funding for crucial programs.

In this case, the last I heard, the millions of Americans who benefitted from Medicaid expansion will see funding for their health insurance subsidies be reduced to $0 by 2027. This means approximately 20 million will lose coverage.

Block grants are also a way for disabled people and children to get screwed, as a smaller pot of money is usually left for all groups receiving assistance. Once that pot is dry, unless the state government puts in more money, there’s just not money for essential programs.

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