Opinion: Latest ACA repeal push reignites debate

"Where have all the flowers gone? Gone to graveyards everyone. When will they ever learn?" - Pete Seeger.

Oh no, not again. The new ACA repeal Graham- Cassidy bill will put middle- and low-income people into graves.

I can’t give you an exact number as Graham and Cassidy are insisting on pushing this ill-advised bill to a vote without hearings or CBO impact analysis. This is exactly what the GOP criticized the Democrats for doing in 2009.

But, there is a big difference. There was full discussion of the ACA (Obamacare) back in 2009.

The GOP was asked for input, and Obamacare itself was based on a Republican proposal (Romneycare). Senators were given a chance to review the document and to ask questions in hearings. And, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office was given time to objectively study the impact of the ACA and report back to Congress well before any vote.

None of this is being done for the Graham-Cassidy bill. GOP Senators are just expected to believe that the bill, which virtually no one has even read, will somehow be an improvement over Obamacare.

How anyone can believe this tripe when there is no Congressional Budget Office scoring is beyond rational comprehension. This situation is especially vexing to health care professionals when you look at the negative impact of the other repeal/replace proposals and the CBO scoring they received.

Those proposals: gutted protections for those with pre-existing conditions; dumped expenses back onto the states; gutted Medicaid, a key safety net program for the elderly (via nursing homes); and raised premiums by five times what they are now for seniors, among other things. They also gave the wealthy and corporations a windfall $600 billion tax cut!

Apparently, the main reason that President Trump and the Senate leadership are even considering a new bill that they know very little about is to get a “win.” President Trump, you would do well to consider your own words “nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated” Well, now you clearly do, which is all the more reason to take time and understand what you want to see passed. For a change, consider the nation and its citizens versus your own ego and desire to score that elusive win.

It is little wonder that the AMA, the AHA, AARP and virtually every health provider group opposed the repeal efforts. There is no indication that any of these groups are any more positive about the Graham-Cassidy “Hail Mary.” In fact, here is what the AMA’s position is as of September 19:

“Graham-Cassidy … would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage, destabilize health insurance markets, and decrease access to affordable coverage and care. We are particularly concerned with provisions that repeal the ACA’s premium tax credits, cost-sharing reductions, small business tax credit, and Medicaid expansion, and that provide inadequate and temporary block grant funds (only through 2026) in lieu of the ACA’s spending on marketplace subsidies and the Medicaid expansion. We are also concerned that the proposal would convert the Medicaid program into a system that limits federal support to care for needy patients.”

My personal opinion is that Senator Graham is a Falcons fan, as I am. However, he keeps reliving the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl and wondering why Ryan didn’t throw a bomb into the end zone to turn things around.

Sen. Graham, this bill is about real life, not sports — or party politics and broken promises. The AMA is correct. People will suffer immensely if your bill becomes law. Frankly, given your record and comments about the last repeal bill, I am more than disappointed.

Jack Bernard, the first director of health planning for Georgia, has been an executive with several national health care firms. A Republican, he’s a former chairman of the Jasper County Commission.