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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cassidy vs. Sanders headed to CNN Sept. 25

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 6:00 PM

click to enlarge Sens. Bernie Sanders and Bill Cassidy join Lindsey Graham and Amy Klobuchar to debate health care legislation Sept. 25 on CNN. - PHOTOS BY AFGE & GAGE SKIDMORE/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Sens. Bernie Sanders and Bill Cassidy join Lindsey Graham and Amy Klobuchar to debate health care legislation Sept. 25 on CNN.

CNN will air a "town hall" Monday, Sept. 25 with U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham debating Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar over proposed health care legislation.

Anchor Jake Tapper and chief political correspondent Dana Bash will moderate the 90-minute event, aired live at 8 p.m.

Cassidy and Graham have cosponsored a controversial repeal of the Affordable Care Act under their plan, which rolls back the Medicaid expansion and frames it as a block-grant program that reduces Medicaid spending by more than $200 billion between 2020 and 2026.

It also places a cap and cut on Medicaid, strips protections for people with pre-existing protections, and cuts access to women's health care, among others, amounting to a bill which opponents have described as "draconian," "dangerous," "evil," "garbage," etc.
It's unclear whether the senators can secure enough votes after similar measures failed in the Senate earlier this year, when Senators contemplated several ACA repeal efforts  with Sen. Mitch McConnell taking the lead.

The Congressional Budget Office aims to finalize a limited report on the proposed legislation next week.

Officials across Louisiana — which would be disproportionately impacted by the bill with cuts to the kinds of federal funding the state receives for health care — have voiced their opposition to the plan, echoing their concerns from the previous round of repeal talks.

More than 433,000 people in Louisiana are covered under the state's recent expansion of Medicaid, which Gov. John Bel Edwards approved last year. That includes more than 52,000 people in New Orleans.

In a letter to Cassidy, Louisiana Health Secretary Rebekah Gee said his legislation "gravely threatens health care access and coverage for our state and its people" and called for more transparency in its debate process (it has yet to have one).

"A generational bill as transformative as this one, that would overhaul aspects of nearly one-fifth of this country's economy, should be done with regular order through public hearings," she wrote.
Gov. Edwards joined a bipartisan group of governors in a letter objecting to Cassidy-Graham and calling the Senate to instead work on a "bipartisan solution that includes input from governors."

"Right now, more than 430,000 working poor people in Louisiana have access to health insurance because we chose to bring our federal tax dollars back home," Edwards said in a statement announcing the letter. "We’re saving lives, money, and investing in our people to ensure they are able to receive quality health care. Importantly, Louisiana’s uninsured rate has dropped to nearly 10 percent. Undoing this progress would negatively impact our citizens and our economy."

Meanwhile, Sen. Sanders has gained significant support for his Medicare for All plan from one-third of Senate Democrats and countless progressive groups and officials around the U.S. after gaining momentum following the 2016 election.

He has 16 cosponsors — including Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — compared to just a few years ago, when he had none.

Sanders' single-payer plan would expand the coverage accepted and implemented under the federal health plan and eliminate deductibles, premiums and copays. It would integrate the plan over four years, at first lowering the age under which Medicare kicks in to 55 (then lowered by another 10 years the next year, then another 10 the following year, then everyone). He's also argued for several ways to pay for it.

According to Pew, support for a single-payer system is up to 33 percent as of June 2017 — up 5 points from January 2017 and 12 points from 2014. But 67 percent of people under 30 believe the government has a responsibility to provide health coverage, and 45 percent believe it should be provided through a single-payer program.

The Republican National Committee, however, is supporting Cassidy-Graham by framing it against Sanders' bill, as if the only option against Cassidy-Graham was not the ACA but Medicare for All, despite its incredibly small chance of passage.

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