Provider groups oppose Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal ACA

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The U.S. Capitol
The U.S. Capitol

Two national organizations representing senior living operators came out against the Graham-Cassidy bill Tuesday.

The legislation, which is expected to be voted on next week in the Senate, would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, in the process changing open-ended Medicaid funding to block grants for states. (Read more about the bill here.)

“This would threaten the security of millions of people who count on the program in their later years,” Niles Godes, senior vice president of congressional affairs for LeadingAge, said in a statement. “They would no longer have the certainty that the long-term services and supports they need would be covered.”

The cuts would come just as aging baby boomers find they need aging services more than ever, Godes said.

The four Republican senators who introduced the bill on Sept. 13 are pushing for a Senate vote on it next week. After that, the fast-track budget procedure Republicans are using to try to repeal Obamacare will have expired, according to the Senate parliamentarian.

One of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said he expects to get the 50 votes needed to pass the legislation in the Senate and that House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-WI) said the House of Representatives will pass it if the Senate does, The Hill reported Tuesday.

Graham's website lists support from eight Republican senators on a page dated Sept. 15. In addition to the four sponsors of the bill (Graham and Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Dean Heller of Nevada and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin), supporters listed include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has said he does not support the bill. No Democrats are expected to support it.

Passage could undermine care for the “tens of thousands” of assisted living residents who rely on Medicaid to pay for long-term services and supports, American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living President and CEO Mark Parkinson said Tuesday.

“The latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act once again tries to solve the complicated question of healthcare reform by slashing hundreds of billions of dollars from the Medicaid program that funds essential care for the aged and disabled,” Parkinson said.

The proposed funding caps that would occur due to the bill threaten access to home- and community-based services for assisted living residents, he said. Many assisted living communities provide HCBS through Medicaid waivers.

“States may be forced to scale back these Medicaid waiver programs that offer the older adults and people with disabilities long-term care in the setting best suited for their needs,” Parkinson said.

The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m ET Monday to discuss the bill. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Johnson chairs, has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. ET Tuesday to discuss the use of block grants in healthcare.

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