Governors across the country are weighing in on the debate in Washington, DC, around the Graham-Cassidy healthcare legislation designed to start the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Fifteen of them sent a letter this week to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging him to get the bill passed in the Senate so it can move on to the House and then, they hope, to President Donald’s Trump’s desk where it would be signed into law.
Some of the letter’s signatories and their representatives told Breitbart News that the bill is not only more equitable and sustainable than Obamacare, but if Congress does not act now, it could result in grave damage to the American healthcare system and the people who depend on it.
“Many of the negative analyses of Graham-Cassidy assume that the Affordable Care Act status quo, along with its endless mandatory spending, is sustainable indefinitely,” Utah Republican Gov. Gary H. Herbert told Breitbart News. “That is simply not true.”
“Obamacare is collapsing,” Herbert said. “Graham-Cassidy has to be compared not to the best-case scenario for current policy, but, instead, to the likely-case scenario, which includes the implosion of our individual health insurance markets and continued political paralysis in Washington, DC.”
“Graham-Cassidy provides a fiscally viable path forward while harnessing the capacity of states to innovate in ways that can improve health outcomes at lower cost,” Herbert said. “It is not perfect.”
“But it is a far more equitable way of providing for the most vulnerable among us,” Herbert said. “And, seriously, does anyone really believe that bureaucrats in Washington, DC, care more for the least among us than do the state and local representatives in the respective statehouses?”
“Graham-Cassidy gives the responsibility of health care to the states on an equitable and predictable basis,” Herbert said. “Graham-Cassidy is a common sense response to the inequities and complexities created by the collapsing Affordable Care Act.”
Herbert added that Obamacare is also essentially unfair to most states in the country, with 40 percent of federal healthcare dollars going to just four comparatively wealthy states.
“That is fundamentally unfair,” Herbert said. “Graham-Cassidy allocates federal healthcare dollars based on the actual number of citizens who benefit from of those funds, not on the basis of runaway healthcare spending in a few elite states.”
“My message has been consistent throughout this debate,” Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told Breitbart News. “The Affordable Care Act should be repealed and replaced with something that works, that is affordable, that continues to provide access to health care, all the while providing a mechanism to better control costs.”
Hutchinson said that he would not support legislation that shifted costs from the federal government to the states.
“Graham-Cassidy satisfies my concerns, and I believe it is a true repeal and replace bill that offers states the flexibility the governors have requested in a block grant format for some time now,” Hutchinson said, adding that critics of the legislation are not telling the truth about it.
“As for some of the misnomers being circulated, Graham-Cassidy will not strip coverage from Arkansans with pre-existing conditions,” Hutchinson said. “The Graham Cassidy bill follows the CHIP model, which Congress has consistently reauthorized since its creation 20 years ago.”
Hutchinson said that CHIP is currently up for Congressional reauthorization and faces bipartisan support.
“There is no reason to believe future Congresses and administrations will act any differently in their approach to this new block grant program,” Hutchinson said.
Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who also is a medical doctor, told Breitbart News that Graham-Cassidy is “a good step forward” to repair the damage Obamacare has done.
Colyer spoke as a member of the administration of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who is stepping down from his governorship to take a job at the U.S. State Department as the U.S. ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.
“We think Graham Cassidy is a good bill,” Colyer said. “It isn’t perfect, but it is a good step forward for returning control to the people.”
“Obamacare is failing us right now in Kansas,” Colyer said. “Instead of the federal government spending this money in the broken system of Obamacare, this bill would issue the money directly to the states so their own elected representatives can put it where it helps their state the most.”
“We could use it for a high-risk pool, for example, particularly to help those with disabilities or pre-existing conditions,” Colyer said. “Being able to tailor health care to the needs of our state gives us the ability to create Kansas solutions for Kansas families.”
“We want more control to design a program that is for Kansans,” Colyer said. “Kansans can make their own decisions about health care; those decisions don’t need to be in the hands of a faceless bureaucrat in Washington, DC.”
Tony Venhuizen, chief of staff for South Dakota Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, told Breitbart News that the Graham-Cassidy bill is a better deal for states than Obamacare.
“It brings parity in funding between expansion and non-expansion states by 2026, which would benefit South Dakota as a non-expansion state,” Venhuizen said. “It has a very high level of flexibility for states in the use of the funds.”
“And it starts to control federal spending by putting constraints on the growth of Medicaid long-term, by converting from a pure entitlement to a per-capita based funding that increases at a defined inflationary rate,” Venhuizen said.
Brenna Smith, press secretary for Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, told Breitbart News that the governor supports the GOP healthcare bill because it benefits the states.
“Obamacare is unaffordable, unworkable, and unsustainable,” Smith said. “Longterm, the governor believes Obamacare should be replaced with market-driven health reform that’s affordable for everyday Iowans and empowers consumers.”
“The governor also believes states should be provided maximum flexibility and control, along with adequately funded block grants, to sustain their Medicaid programs,” Smith said. “Right now, the Graham Cassidy bill is the only bill that accomplishes the governor’s health reform principles.”
Reynolds believes Graham-Cassidy would succeed in the same way welfare reform in the 1990s did.
“The governor believes this model can work for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare,” Smith said. “States should be given maximum flexibilities to empower consumers, innovate, lower healthcare costs, and sustain their healthcare systems.”
“Our state recently submitted a stopgap measure to the federal government for approval,” Smith said. “This short-term measure stops the immediate collapse created by Obamacare and provides a short-term health insurance solution for thousands of Iowa entrepreneurs, farmers, and retirees.”
In the letter to McConnell, the 15 governors cited the welfare reform model and urged McConnell to get the bill passed in the Senate.
“Adequately funded, flexible block grants to the states are the last, best hope to finally repeal and replace Obamacare — a program which is collapsing before our very eyes,” the letter stated. “We stand ready to work with you and the other members of the Senate, the Speaker and the other members of the House, and with the President and his administration to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something that works – in the states.”
The legislation is facing an uphill battle, as now at least two Republicans — Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) — have said they will vote nay if the bill comes to a vote in the Senate.