Politics

BREAKING: Graham-Cassidy bill defunding Planned Parenthood will not get a vote

Tuesday afternoon update: According to Politico, the Senate vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill has been canceled, due to three Republican Senators declaring their opposition to it. This article’s headline has been updated to reflect the news.

Monday evening update: A tumultuous Monday on Capitol Hill led to continued internal debates on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. The Associated Press reported on another revision to the bill:

Republicans have released a revised version of their legislation dismantling the Obama health care law. It contains added money and newly eased coverage requirements aimed at winning over GOP senators whose opposition could well sink the bill.

By Monday evening, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine had also stated her public opposition to the bill, joining Sens. McCain, Paul, and Cruz. The Associated Press reports that  “Cruz aides say he’s seeking changes so he can vote ‘yes.'” It is likely debate and revisions will continue until the September 30 deadline.

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Sunday night, Senate Republicans added money to the Graham-Cassidy health care bill in hopes of swaying its Republican opponents. Seen as an eleventh hour chance to undo Obamacare, the Graham-Cassidy bill is facing defeat as some Republican senators announced they will not support it. The latest amendment is their last hope for the 50 votes needed before September 30, when the budget reconciliation period ends.

320,000 preborn children will be poisoned, dismembered, and starved to death next year at the hands of Planned Parenthood, with help from half a billion of your taxpayer dollars, if this bill does not pass.

The next 12 days could be our last chance this year to defund the abortion giant — especially if pro-lifers don’t maintain a majority in Congress next year.

Despite this, some Republican senators are vocally opposing the Graham-Cassidy bill: Rand Paul (Kentucky) and John McCain (Arizona). Paul’s spokesman told the Associated Press:

[Paul]wants a “significant” reduction in the law’s $1 trillion in spending, elimination of its coverage requirements and establishment of broad health plans consumers could join.

The Kentucky senator has indicated that unless those conditions are met, he will vote no. McCain criticized the hastiness of the bill, and President Trump said it’s McCain’s fault the health care bill didn’t pass in July: “That’s the only reason we don’t have it, because of John McCain.”

Those with serious concerns or leaning toward no are Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Susan Collins (Maine) and Ted Cruz (Texas). Over the weekend, Cruz said that he could not yet support the bill without some changes: “Right now, they don’t have my vote. And I don’t think they have Mike Lee’s [Utah] vote, either.”

These obstacles prompted the changes revealed Sunday evening, adding $14.5 billion for states, some specifically helping the states of the opposing senators. Politico reported Sunday night about the amended health care bill, posting this copy of the bill’s modifications. Politico reports:

The revised bill includes new provisions that would steer more federal funding to Alaska, Arizona and Kentucky…. Under the revised text, the bill’s authors now project increases in federal funding for Arizona (14 percent), Kentucky (4 percent) and Alaska (3 percent), which would have seen declines under the previous version, according to a leaked analysis from Trump’s health department. In particular, Murkowski’s home state would uniquely benefit from Sec. 129, which allows the state with the highest separate poverty guideline — Alaska — to receive a 25 percent hike in federal matching funds for Medicaid.

The bill also includes new provisions that would give states more freedom to eliminate federal insurance regulations, as Cruz and Lee have requested. For instance, states could lift existing caps on out-of-pocket costs, which currently prevent insurers from offering bare-bones insurance policies. As a result, people could potentially buy health plans featuring cheaper premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs, which are more attractive to healthier customers.

President Trump tweeted Sunday night, saying the states of those opposing the bill were going to come out “big winners”:

Indeed, Alaska could benefit from the changes, as NBC News reported Monday:

The new version would grandfather Native Alaskans into Medicaid so they wouldn’t lose coverage after the expanded Medicaid program is rolled back in 2020.

This change could sway Murkowski as well as other rural states, who also would see increased funding.

The revised bill may appease some of the concerns looming over the last-minute vote, but the bill has more than a handful of Republicans opposing it. In an article in Marie Claire, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said the possibility of the bill’s passage is, “terrifying for women.” What Richards means is that she is terrified that Planned Parenthood will actually be defunded, and if she can help stop the bill from passing, she will breathe a sigh of relief, since after September 30, a bill will need 60 votes to pass instead of the 50 it needs this week. Richards told Marie Claire:

The people who are going to be punished by this bill the most are the women who have relied on Planned Parenthood for affordable health care.

In fact, as the Marie Claire article notes, the Graham-Cassidy bill not only prohibits Planned Parenthood from receiving government funds, but it “institutes a nationwide ban on abortion coverage—even for private plans.” Thankfully, Federally Qualified Health Centers and Community Health Centers are more than qualified and equipped to handle the influx of Planned Parenthood’s patients, if necessary.

Joining the gallery of tragically ironic corresponded was the letter Richards sent to supporters on Saturday with the subject “Lives are at stake, [recipient’s name]:

Despite the revisions proposed to the bill, on Monday, Rand Paul still indicated he would not support it, and it remains in jeopardy.  On Monday morning, the Associated Press reported:

A spokesman for Sen. Rand Paul says the Kentucky Republican remains opposed to the GOP bill repealing the Obama health care law. Paul’s opposition would almost certainly doom the measure.

Just three Republican opponents would kill the bill in the narrowly divided Senate.

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain opposes the measure and Maine Republican Susan Collins seems almost sure to do so. Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski is undecided but voted against earlier versions this summer.

Thus, it appears Collins and Murkowski are the only somewhat realistic hopes for the passage of the Graham-Cassidy bill, should it arrive on the floor for a vote before the September 30 budget reconciliation deadline. After the deadline, it would revert to the usual need for passage, 60 votes, rather then the current simple majority of 51, or 50, with Vice President Pence breaking the tie.

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