Comedian Jimmy Kimmel doubled down Wednesday night on his efforts to clear up the misinformation that's being spread about the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, which would allow states to charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions, waive requirements for insurers to cover maternity care, mental health care, and other health issues, and eliminate the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) marketplace subsidies, which make premiums affordable for low-income Americans.
Following Kimmel's attack on the bill on Tuesday night, in which he accused Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) of lying earlier this year when he promised not to back any healthcare bill that would eliminate affordable coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, Cassidy told CNN that the talk show host simply didn't understand the bill. Cassidy's co-sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also called Kimmel's statement on the bill "absolute garbage" and an "inappropriate" attack on Cassidy, "who has worked for the underprivileged and healthcare all his life."
In his response Wednesday night, Kimmel rattled off a list of more than a dozen groups including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Cancer Society, all of which agree with Kimmel's assessment of the bill, and compared the legislation to a coffee shop that will allow customers to buy coffee—but won't guarantee that its cups will hold the coffee.
President Donald Trump is one of many Republicans circulating falsehoods about the Graham-Cassidy bill. On Wednesday night he posted a tweet assuring that the bill covers pre-existing conditions, a claim that many critics said was either a blatant attempt to mislead the public or a sign that Trump isn't aware of the proposal's details.
I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of pre-existing conditions. It does! A great Bill. Repeal & Replace.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
This is a lie. A horrible knowing fabrication. The bill is intentionally constructed to force states to drop this protection. https://t.co/t6z2bckyN5
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) September 21, 2017
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— Steve Marmel (@Marmel) September 21, 2017
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) September 20, 2017
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has said it won't be able to fully score the Graham-Cassidy bill before the Senate votes on it, but over the summer estimated that between 20 and 32 million Americans would lose their health coverage if previous Republican attempts to repeal the ACA passed.
But other experts have said Kimmel is the clear winner in his ongoing debate with Cassidy over the bill. Joan Alker of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families told Politico, "If Graham-Cassidy becomes law, there is no guarantee a child born with a congenital heart defect will get the coverage they need. It would depend on where they live, but even states with good intentions would struggle to protect children with the massive cuts to Medicaid included in this bill."
In its analysis of the bill, the Commonwealth Fund said, "By repealing the ACA’s coverage expansions and cutting deeply into the Medicaid program, the Graham-Cassidy bill threatens the health care of as many as 100 million people, from newborns to the elderly."
And the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities noted that the block grants that will be doled out to states to replace the ACA's marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion are not only insufficient, but also temporary.
"The Cassidy-Graham bill would likely lead to greater numbers of uninsured after 2026, however, because it would not only entirely eliminate its block grant funding—effectively repealing the ACA’s major coverage expansions—but also make increasingly severe federal funding cuts to the rest of the Medicaid program," the CPBB said in its analysis of the proposal.