Sen. Murkowski may hold the key to your healthcare future
Senator Lisa Murkowski is once again the most important person in Washington. Or at least the most influential at the moment.
She finds herself, once again, a pivotal vote in her party’s latest effort to repeal Obamacare.
The bill du jour is Graham-Cassidy, named for its Senate sponsors Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.
The bill eliminates Medicaid expansion, which Alaska took advantage of, and coverts funding into block grants that states could spend how they want.
While that may seem attractive, nobody knows what the level of funding would be. Those are important numbers to know, considering that more than 180,000 Alaskans are covered by Medicaid.
The Congressional Budget Office says it would take weeks to analyze the states that are winners and losers under the bill.
So, once again, lawmakers are being asked to vote for a bill, without knowing the consequences to their constituents. And so far, for Lisa Murkowski, that doesn’t appear to be good enough.
Senate leaders are reportedly putting a spoon full of sugar in the bill, specifically to get Murkowski to swallow it in the form of increased money for Alaska -- but they tried that back in July and failed.
Beyond the reductions in Medicaid, the bill would also waive key protections for pre-existing conditions, threatening to price older and sicker Americans out of the market.
In essence, it allows states to craft their own health care systems, determining who gets what kind of coverage and at what cost.
Really, what could go wrong?
And finally, the bill would also block the use of Medicaid dollars at Planned Parenthood health centers. We’re not talking for abortions. We’re talking normal health care relied on by thousands of Alaska women. Which indicates the bill’s sponsors haven’t been listening to Lisa Murkowski while asking for her vote.
On Tuesday, Governor Bill Walker joined nine other governors, of both parties, urging Senate leaders to drop Graham-Cassidy and pursue a path of bipartisan reforms.
The letter coming on the same day as Premera Blue Cross’ announcement that health insurance premiums in Alaska will drop by more than 25 percent on average in 2018 on the individual marketplace. -- that’s under Obamacare.
Which means, as far as Alaska is concerned, there is no need to rush a triage bill through the Senate when there is time to do the operation right.
Senate leadership is rushing to get a vote because, after September 30, they will need 60 votes to repeal and replace Obamacare.
So, it appears it’s now or never, and Graham-Cassidy is the Hail Mary, or as it’s called in Washington these days, a "Hail Lisa."
John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.