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CBO still expected to analyze Graham-Cassidy health care measure

Joe Williams, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Health & Fitness

WASHINGTON -- The Congressional Budget Office will still release a full analysis of a proposal from four Republican senators that would overhaul the health care system, according to one of the bill's main sponsors.

During an interview for Tuesday's CQ Roll Call Big Story Podcast, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said a full score from the nonpartisan budget office is still expected. He believes that report could help dispel some of the opposition to the legislation.

"Even that will take some understanding," he said.

Cassidy took particular issue with media reports that said the legislation would drastically gut Medicaid.

While CBO said that enrollment in the entitlement program would be "substantially lower" as a result of the bill, loss in health coverage could be offset from states utilizing the block grant funding model to implement systems similar to the health law's Medicaid expansion, according to the Louisiana Republican.

Cassidy, along with Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Dean Heller of Nevada, introduced legislation last month that would, among other things, essentially turn all federal funding for the health law into a massive block grant to the states.

Senate Republicans made a last-ditch attempt to try to vote on that proposal last week before the fast-track budget reconciliation procedure for fiscal 2017 expired at the end of September.

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Cassidy and Graham ultimately announced after the weekly GOP policy lunch that the chamber would not hold a vote on their bill. They vowed, however, to continue to build upon it with the anticipation it could come up for a vote again in the coming months.

The budget office issued a preliminary report on a version of the legislation last week, but had said a full analysis of it could take weeks, prompting outrage from Democrats.

There were several iterations of the proposal in the span of a few days, as lawmakers tried to ease the concerns of some hesitant members, like Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

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