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Republicans' brave new strategy for fixing the U.S. health-care system

Catherine Rampell on

Republicans have unveiled their brave new strategy for fixing the U.S. health care system: Make someone else deal with it.

Of all the god-awful Obamacare-repeal-and-replace plans that Republicans have proposed, Cassidy-Graham might be the god-awfulest. It's definitely the most cowardly. Republicans spent nine months fighting over how to repeal Obamacare without shafting the poor and enraging voters, and they failed.

So instead they're passing the buck.

Here's how the bill, named for Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), works.

It would eliminate the Obamacare individual market subsidies, which help low- and middle-income people buy insurance. It would also repeal Obamacare's Medicaid expansion money. After an enormous across-the-board cut to federal health spending, Congress would give each state a block grant.

Every state would then have to create its own entirely new health insurance program, from scratch, by 2020.

Then, in 2027, the block-grant funding ends entirely.

Because hey, if Congress, with so many experts and resources at its disposal, can't figure it out, then surely some part-time state lawmakers can. All our health-care problems will be solved once we unleash the brain trust that is the Kansas legislature.

All this means fewer people would be insured, since states will be forced to do less with less. We don't yet have an estimate for how many Americans would lose coverage, though; the Senate plans to vote on the bill next week, conveniently before the Congressional Budget Office has time to put together a full score.

An increase in uninsured rates isn't the only easily foreseeable problem with this proposal. Premium prices are likely to spike, too.

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