Attendees display their signs in protest to Sen. Joni Ernst's stance on the Graham-Cassidy bill at a Town Hall meeting in the Iowa Memorial Union on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (James Year/The Daily Iowan)

Guest Opinion: Graham-Cassidy health-care bill would be disastrous

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A physician says the proposed ACA replacement will be catastrophic.

Please call your senators and ask them to vote against the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill, which would repeal Obamacare. It is a brutal attack on the basic human right of Americans to health care. It is deeply flawed, especially for people who are less affluent, and it will cut access to health care for millions of Americans. 

I am a physician, and many of my patients would not be able to afford adequate treatment in order to prevent serious illness and even death if not for Obamacare. 

This Republican Obamacare-repeal bill will require every state in the country to make a complete evaluation of how they would like their health-care systems to work and to build such a system in just over two years. It is not realistic that states will be able to do this.

RELATED: Guest Opinion: Killing Medicaid expansion kills patients

This bill would roll back the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, which has enabled about 14 million Americans to obtain health-care coverage. It will allow a fixed “block grant” for Medicaid in each state so that each state would have a fixed amount of money every year. This would not be nearly enough to provide essential care for many low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

By waiting until last week to complete their bill, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy didn’t leave the CBO enough time to properly analyze it before a vote is taken. Many senators don’t even know what is really in the bill and how much it will hurt their constituents. They support it so they and President Trump can claim they fulfilled their promise to repeal Obamacare, no matter how it will hurt their constituents.

Sen. Chuck Grassley said, “You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered, but Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”

The legislation does little to stabilize the individual market from now until when the states would have to administer new health programs in 2020. Insurers are sharply raising their prices for 2018 because lawmakers have not committed to funding the so-called cost-sharing subsidies that help insurers reduce deductibles and co-payments for low-income customers. The bill does not fix this problem.

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The legislation also eliminates the tax penalty that people who refuse coverage face — the individual mandate — which could discourage insurance enrollment among healthier people, who are critical to making the program work. Insurance companies, some of which are only reluctantly staying in the market, may think twice about whether they need to remain while the alternatives are being worked out.

We need to fix and improve Obamacare and have a single payer option like Medicare and also make it more cost-effective to provide adequate health care to all Americans. Health care is a basic human right.  

Please don’t allow the Senate to pass this disastrous bill.

— John Macatee

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