Email #289: “working towards a solution”?

The latest version of an ACA repeal, the Senate’s Graham-Cassidy bill, would eliminate the individual mandate, eliminate essential health benefits, convert ACA market and Medicaid funds into state block grants, cap and reduce those funds over ten years, and eliminate those funds completely by 2027.

A group of eleven governors–five Republicans, five Democrats, and one Independent—condemned the bill. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, AARP, and the American Cancer Society are condemning it too.

The CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield said:

“The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions. The legislation reduces funding for many states significantly and would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans.”

The CEO of Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association said:

“The cuts could be devastating to our health care system, including rural and frontier hospitals that operate on razor-thin margins. These hospitals are often accessible only by airplane or ferry, so the loss of a hospital means an expensive and disruptive medical evacuation out of the community. Ultimately, patients will bear the consequences, through reduced access to health care and lost insurance coverage.”

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the previous, similar repeal bills would have resulted in 15 to 18 million fewer people having healthcare the following year, a fact that doomed those bills in the Senate. The CBO does not have enough time to score the Graham-Cassidy bill before the September 30th deadline for a “reconciliation” vote, but preliminary calculations suggest a decrease of at least 15 million and as many as 30 million people.

You said in July: “I will keep working towards a solution to increase access to care and deliver affordable health insurance options.” But Graham-Cassidy and its predecessors would decrease access and decrease affordable options. Even if you’re right that “Obamacare does not work,” these repeals are not solutions. When will you start working for a bill that, like the ACA, is at least trying to achieve the goals you claim to support?

The AHCA, like Graham-Cassidy, would decrease access to care, but you voted for it because you said the AHCA would increase access to care. How can your constituents understand your position as anything other than Orwellian doublethink?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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