What Conservatives Think About Graham-Cassidy: ‘We Will Turn a Washington Failure Into an American Success’

HealthCare.gov KAREN BLEIER AFPGetty Images
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

A number of conservatives, intellectuals, and think tank scholars have endorsed the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill. Here are some of the conservatives who have backed the Graham-Cassidy.

Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment

Phil Kerpen praised the bill as a simple solution to Americans and businesses who continue to suffer under Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates. The American Commitment president said:

GCHJ is a simpler bill than Republicans have previously offered. It repeals the individual mandate, which is imposing harsh tax penalties on people who can’t afford Obamacare’s sky-high premiums. According to the IRS, 83.7 percent of the nearly eight million individual mandate penalty payers made less than $50,000 in the most recent year for which data are available and 46.1 percent make less than $25,000. While the Congressional Budget Office still likes to pretend the mandate works, reality shows it leaves many Americans of limited means not just uninsured, but poorer than they were before.

GCHJ also repeals the employer mandate, which is holding small businesses under 50 employees. According to University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan, the mandate has destroyed 250,000 jobs. The employer mandate also has induced many employers to slash hours to keep workers under Obamacare’s 30-hour-per-week threshold. Many of those affected are adjunct professors at local colleges and other employees of cash-strapped local governments, school districts, and library districts.

Kerpen explained that Graham-Cassidy enables federalism to flourish, allowing conservative states to adopt more free-market policies, while liberal states can choose to pursue single-payer healthcare schemes. Kerpen explained:

For all states it means real control of health dollars and health policy without micromanagement by a vast federal bureaucracy. Liberal states could choose to maintain Obamacare’s exchanges and subsidy structure, while conservative states move in very different directions that emphasize individual choice and competition. Not every state would succeed – but few could do worse than the acute crisis the country now faces as Obamacare crumbles, and the most successful states would serve as models for others whose own initial approaches don’t fare as well.

Unlike previous health care bills that sought to replace a failed Democratic one-size-fits-all national vision of health care with a single Republican vision, GCHJ takes a more modest approach that repeals Obamacare’s most grievous injuries to constitutional freedom and then uses a block grant to allow the states to sort out the specifics for themselves.

Avik Roy, president of Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and Forbes opinion editor

Roy argued that although the Obamacare repeal bill remains imperfect, it will address a large disparity in Medicaid funding that favors wealthy, Democrat states over less wealthy and Republican states. “One of the most interesting reforms in Graham-Cassidy is that, over time, it ends a significant bias in the Medicaid program toward wealthy states like California, Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland. Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal government and the states; on average, Washington foots about 60 percent of the bill. In theory, the federal government is supposed to foot higher proportions of the bill for poorer states; but because the minimum match is set to 50 percent, a number of very wealthy states receive a lot more money than they should,” Roy said.

Edmund Haislmaier and Robert Rector, Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation writers explained that the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill would serve as a significant improvement over the Affordable Care Act. Haislmaeir and Rector wrote, “Graham–Cassidy includes significant improvements over current law by repealing the individual and employer mandate tax penalties, providing Medicaid reform, and empowering states to design health care subsidies and insurance rules that work for their residents.”

“Graham–Cassidy makes it easier for states to waive Obamacare insurance mandates, including several mandates most responsible for driving up health care premiums. The bill gives states access to greater regulatory relief than in the House-passed bill or the 2015 repeal bill vetoed by President Barack Obama,” the Heritage health scholars added.

The Heritage Foundation also argued that the Obamacare repeal bill would make Mediciad more financially viable and effective for those who need it. The scholars said, “Graham–Cassidy helps to refocus Medicaid on those who are most in need. These changes would put federal financing of Medicaid on a sustainable path, give states stronger incentives to manage the program more effectively, and restore Medicaid’s pre-Obamacare focus on the most vulnerable: the elderly, disabled, children, and pregnant women in poverty. This is major entitlement reform that has long recommended by health policy experts.”

Lanhee Chen, Hoover Institution

Lanhee Chen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and director of domestic policy studies in Stanford’s Public Policy Program, said, “The Graham-Cassidy bill’s biggest strength is the idea that states are uniquely equipped to design and implement health care programs that suit their residents. The bill would consolidate much of the federal funding given to states under Obamacare’s coverage provisions—including money for its Medicaid expansion and subsidies to help people buy private insurance—into a single block grant, which states could use for a wide variety of health reforms.”

“Not everyone will like the reforms states pursue. But what Graham-Cassidy creates is a competition of ideas. The best programs would be emulated and the worst discarded—which is how policy making should work in a federalist system,” Chen added.

Chen wrote, “The bill before them is the most thoughtful and, yes, conservative health-reform plan they have encountered in their years long effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. They should act quickly to pass it and get the job done.”

Chris Pope, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute,

Pope explained that the Graham-Cassidy does far better than the previous Senate bill to addreses Medicaid’s current woes. Pope said, “This simple solution goes further than BCRA in redressing the great disparity in federal Medicaid assistance between states. Indeed, it does so without concentrating cuts on low-spending expansion states such as Arizona. It also prevents states from evading spending caps by merely inflating the number of healthy, able-bodied individuals enrolled, as they could do under the BCRA.”

“Graham-Cassidy allows states to pool resources to increase the attractiveness and stability of the individual market. In doing this, it meets a clear need, but it also facilitates more thorough reform by repealing the individual mandate and potentially allowing fairly priced, fully competitive insurance to be offered outside of the exchanges. It also greatly expands the flexibility and potential uses of Health Savings Accounts,” Pope added.

Pope concluded, “Graham-Cassidy has merit because it holds out the prospect of reconstructing a properly competitive insurance market. It also represents a major improvement over the current structure of Medicaid. Its critics, including Senator Rand Paul, are wrong to argue that it leaves 90 percent of Obamacare intact — that may be true of its narrow fiscal impact, but it would sweep aside that legislation’s most dysfunctional incentives and lay the groundwork necessary for further incremental improvements.”

Curtis Ellis, senior policy analyst for America First Policies

Ellis charged that President Donald Trump does not believe that the swamp has the wherewithal to fix America’s health care problems, only the states have that capability. Ellis wrote, “President Trump doesn’t trust the Swamp to fix healthcare, so he wants to empower governors and state legislatures to fix Obamacare one state at a time. He doesn’t care if the governor is a Democrat or a Republican — he wants results. Graham-Cassidy gives states the authority and the funding to clean up the mess created by Washington, D.C. It repeals the most onerous mandates of Obamacare to give states the flexibility and freedom to design their own healthcare solutions.”

Ellis declared, “Congress must pass Graham-Cassidy and send it to President Trump for his signature. Only then will we turn a Washington failure into an American success.”

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