With the latest version of Trumpcare floundering after several Republicans announced that they cannot support the legislation in its current form, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) are set to release on Monday yet another draft of their Obamacare repeal plan that includes extra funding for the home states of senators who have expressed deep concerns about the bill—a move Buzzfeed reporter Paul McLeod quickly characterized as "shockingly blatant bribery."
"If there was any question about Graham-Cassidy's removal of federal protections for preexisting conditions, this new draft is quite clear."
—Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation
"There's really no way around it," McLeod added. "This is almost comically targeted to sweeten the deal for the senators voting no. What a way to go out."
According to the Washington Post, a summary of the draft that was circulating on Capitol Hill late Sunday indicated that "Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than under current law, and Maine would get 43 percent more funding during that time period."
As McLeod observed, the funding "sweeteners" are clearly aimed at assuaging two Republican senators—Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine—who have long been opposed to measures that deeply cut Medicaid. Murkowski and Collins both voted against the GOP's previous attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but neither have officially indicated that they will oppose the latest bill.
Larry Levitt, senior vice president for Special Initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, noted on Sunday that the latest Graham-Cassidy draft also makes abundantly clear that those with preexisting conditions would not be protected under the legislation.
"If there was any question about Graham-Cassidy's removal of federal protections for preexisting conditions, this new draft is quite clear," Levitt concluded.
Given that Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have already announced that they will oppose the deeply unpopular Graham-Cassidy plan—which has been called the most extreme iteration of Trumpcare yet—Republicans cannot afford to lose another vote if their bid to throw more than 20 million people off health insurance is to succeed. The deadline for Republicans to pass a repeal bill with a simple majority is Saturday, and some reports have indicated that legislation could be brought to the floor for a vote as early as Wednesday.
"The media is making it sound like this Republican repeal attempt is doomed, but Trump is still pushing hard and we are still in a full 'RED ALERT' moment."
—Maria Langholz, Progressive Change Campaign CommitteeWith this deadline looming, opposition efforts gained a new sense of urgency over the weekend and are expected to continue throughout the week.
Organizations representing cancer patients, physicians (pdf), and hospitals throughout the country have strongly condemned the Graham-Cassidy bill—which one analysis found would kill tens of thousands of people by 2027—and hundreds are expected to make a trip to Washington, D.C. on Monday and Tuesday to protest the legislation, with dozens of other demonstrations planned nationwide.
Early Monday, dozens of disability rights activists had already gathered inside the Senate building ahead of a Finance Committee hearing on Graham-Cassidy, set to take place later in the afternoon.
"Take nothing for granted. Spare no effort. This is the home stretch," concluded Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org. "You know the stakes."
Repeal fight is very much alive. Help:— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) September 25, 2017
1. call Senate: 202-224-3121
2. find a protest/call voters in key states: https://t.co/gMOCKNwweg
In an email on Sunday, Maria Langholz, an organizer with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, urged Trumpcare opponents to stay vigilant and resist being lulled into a sense of complacency by news reports that Trumpcare is officially dead.
"The media is making it sound like this Republican repeal attempt is doomed, but Trump is still pushing hard and we are still in a full 'RED ALERT' moment," Langholz wrote. "Our petition signatures and phone calls, our rallies and our town hall meetings, and our TV ads in the home states of key Senate Republicans have already helped defeat two Republican repeal attempts this year. Now we must double-down our efforts, stop this last ditch attempt at an Obamacare repeal, and move toward Medicare for All."