Missouri Senators Face a Stark Choice on Health Care

Statement from Jen Bersdale, Executive Director of Missouri Health Care for All, following today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing on the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal

 “Today, the U.S. Senate Finance committee held a hearing on the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ) health care repeal plan. This plan is the most destructive one yet, and jeopardizes coverage for as many as 32 million Americans.

“Senate leaders are trying to rush the bill through before their September 30 deadline. That timeline means there will be no full score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on how the bill would impact coverage or premiums. It also means there is not enough time for elected officials to fully understand the impact of the bill on their constituents before they will be asked to vote on it. Advancing a bill under these circumstances is highly irresponsible.

“Even without a full CBO score, it is clear that GCHJ is even more destructive than the plans defeated earlier this year by Congress. As many as 32 million Americans could lose coverage, and those with pre-existing conditions would be back at the mercy of profit-seeking insurance companies in many states. In addition, this bill actually makes deep, permanent cuts to the Medicaid program that existed long before the Affordable Care Act. These cuts would leave states like Missouri no choice but to restrict access to health care for our most vulnerable neighbors, such as people with disabilities and children.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of health care experts at the local, state, and national levels have voiced their opposition to this plan, including physician, patient, consumer, and senior groups; hospitals; and a bipartisan group of governors. Insurance providers oppose the plan. Tens of thousands of Americans have called on their Senators to urge them to reject GCHJ.

“While the Senate Finance committee spent hours this afternoon debating GCHJ, the clock is ticking on funding critically important health care safety net programs. By the end of this week, Congress must vote to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), to postpone delays to Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funds that compensate hospitals for caring for the uninsured, and to renew funding for our community health centers. Nearly 87,000 Missouri children rely on the CHIP program for their coverage. Where is the Senate hearing on health care for our community’s children?

“One thing is clear: The U.S. Senate has a stark choice to make as they determine how to spend their time this week. Will they focus on rushing through a dangerous, unworkable, and deeply unpopular health care bill in order to claim they have delivered on partisan campaign promises? Or will they work together to extend funding for commonsense, bipartisan programs that provide care for millions?

“We call on Senator Blunt and Senator McCaskill to keep the best interests of Missourians in mind. They can do this by working together to extend funding for safety net programs by September 30, and by rejecting the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson repeal plan.”

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