Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of nonprofit Consumer Reports, writes to express our strong opposition to the recently proposed Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill. This bill is an even harsher version of the previous failed proposals that were rejected by the majority of Americans and by the Senate itself. By turning Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies and Medicaid expansion dollars into block grants to states, with dramatically reduced funding, the bill would eliminate consumers’ certainty that, no matter where in this country they live, their access to care and coverage is constant and assured. The proposal also fundamentally alters the Medicaid financing structure by drastically cutting funding and shifting billions of dollars of healthcare costs onto states and consumers.
In addition to the many substantive problems with the bill, outlined in detail below, we are deeply troubled by the rushed manner in which this bill, like those in the past failed attempts, is being presented for a vote. If enacted, this bill would affect the life of each American and one-sixth of our economy. Yet, the Senate is poised to vote without a complete score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and without CBO’s analysis of the premium cost and coverage losses. This bill is not simply a repeal of ACA but also a historic undercutting of the Medicaid program. As one of the votes with the biggest impact on the health and financial security of American families that Senators will make, a decision on how to vote should be fully informed by a complete CBO analysis and Committee hearings involving a broad panel of experts.
Consumers deserve to know how they will be impacted by this legislation; holding a hearing in one Committee of jurisdiction less than a week before a vote is expected, with no real opportunity for bipartisan feedback or meaningful stakeholder input, does not constitute a thorough, thoughtful bipartisan process. Instead, we urge a renewed commitment to bipartisan efforts to produce a tailored, thoughtful remedy that truly serves consumers’ needs.