What Republican health bill would mean for Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s Democratic senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have been vocal about their opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill.

The health care proposal is the Republicans’ latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

On Friday afternoon, Republican Sen. John McCain said it does not have his support.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” he said in a statement. “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried.”

Earlier Friday, Warner and Kaine told reporters in a joint phone call that the bill would be a “disaster” for Virginia and the country.

Republicans have argued that the government should be less involved in health care.

Opponents of the bill, including McCain, have said they cannot vote for it until they know how much it would cost and how many people would be affected — something that isn’t yet clear.

“If Graham-Cassidy is a good idea today, it’ll be a good idea three months from now and after it’s been thoroughly vetted, then you can have this debate and vote,” said Warner. “What they’re trying to do right now is jam something through for political purposes, not for health care purposes.”

Republicans are facing a September 30 deadline to pass the bill with a simple majority vote.

“The Senate rules are usually that you need 60 senators to actually pass anything and they’re not going to get any democratic support for this bill,” said political analyst Richard Meagher.

Meagher said Republicans and Democrats typically wait for a score after a review from the Congressional Budget Office before voting.

“The argument that Democrats are making that the Republicans are pushing this through without waiting for a score is a good argument,” he said. “It is kind of irresponsible.”

Meagher said, if passed, Virginians would likely not feel an immediate impact.

“But if something happens next year, where more people need Medicaid — let’s say there’s a downturn in the Virginia economy, more people are thrown out of work, our number of unemployed rises, the number of people who qualify for Medicaid rises, that money’s just not going to be there from the federal government,” said Meagher.

Kaine said he is frustrated Medicaid is even included as part of the proposed deal and believes it’s about more than health care.

“I’ll tell you my suspicion,” he said. “I think they’re cutting the money out of the Affordable Care Act and they’re cutting the money out of Medicaid so they can turn around next month and put in a big tax reform package that will hand tax breaks to the wealthiest.”

Kaine also doesn’t believe there’s enough in the bill to protect pre-existing conditions.

“It’s got a hole big enough to drive a Mack truck through in terms of eliminating the guarantee that people with pre-existing conditions will actually get insurance,” he said.

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